Just Play

“I didn’t paint the morning after her visit. I drew. Little caricatures, cartoon figures really. Sitting. Running. Walking. Swimming. Fast, fast, fast. No time for me to think. Skiing. Bicycling. Dancing.

Just play, Laine had advised. So I tried to play. I worked at playing, determined to keep trying until I could play without having to work.”

When I came to this spot in Robin Black’s Life Drawing last night I had to stop reading and put the book down. Work at play?

Gus, a  middle-aged artist who’s dealing with her father’s dementia and the fallout from her own infidelity, finds comfort in her painting. Everything she paints, the chairs, the walls, every brick, is alive — everything except the people. She even says she thinks she might be missing the “life-drawing gene.”

She’s become cautious since her days of “preaching the virtues of risk and of failure…” She says that mistakes have “lost their appeal.”

Like Gus, I’ve known that cautious feeling. I too have “preached the virtues of risk and failure” on my blogs and to my students.

Every day I see that I am one of those who has to “work at play.” But I know that when I finally get to play without work, that’s when the work will come alive.

Now I will savor the rest of Life Drawing as I feel a kindred spirit in Gus, and a true appreciation for the author, Robin Black, who brings these characters, with their real-life issues alive on the page.

(Read The Rumpus interview with Robin Black)


I’m looking for inspirational women! Do you know anyone who incorporates play into their life? Someone who has a 9 to 5 job or family obligations… but still finds time to incorporate creative play into their life? Please email me at catherine (at) gmail (dot) com.



Today is November 1st, the first day of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Now in its 16th year, NaNoWriMo has grown from 21 participants the first year to over 300,000 in 2013. The goal of the participants is to complete a ‘novel’ of at least 50,000 words by 11:59PM on November 30th. With online forums and local writer meetups, NaNoWriMo has become a fun way to jump into free-flow writing.

Three years ago I participated and I have my badge to show I completed the 50,000 words. For someone who is known to take hours reworking one paragraph, this kind of writing “throw down”, was a huge challenge. I have yet to go back and reread my ‘novel’ – there may be one or two salvageable bits – but I find it awfully tempting to just hit the delete key.

It’s encouraging however to see just how many wrimos have had their novels published through traditional publishers.

This month I’d be thrilled to complete a long overdue screenplay rewrite which should come in at less than half the Nano word count requirement. I’ll keep you posted!