Today’s guest blog post is brought to you by Samantha Connolly.
Paint Your Picture
It is often said that you’re either scientifically minded or artistically minded. It can take a while to work ourselves out as we grow up. I, for example, was terrible at maths and whilst, during my pre-teens, I developed a healthy desire to learn more about the human biology, I was essentially and overall completely useless at science on the whole; I loved art and literature. So, once we work out which ‘mind’ we have, that’s it, right?
Well, no, actually, not really. If you’re all set with the understanding that you fall on the ‘artistic’ side of the spectrum, that can be comforting, in that it gives you a ‘path’ and a place to ‘fit in’ to – cue diarising Saturday visits to the Tate, buying of hair-dye and appropriate beaded jewellery to appear ‘arty’, and, of course, the obligatory writing out of soulful ballad lyrics while sitting cross-legged in DMs with purple laces and floaty floral skirts. But if, like me, you’re only OK at painting, while others are considered ‘naturals’, what do you do then?
Obviously working for what you want is a good move. American Palaeontologist Jack Horner was interested in palaeontology from childhood, but, as quoted by Liz Attebery in http://dyslexia.yale.edu/horner.html, the famous scientist described himself as having found school ‘extremely difficult because my progress in […] mathematics was excruciatingly slow.’ He could have given up. After all, to qualify as a palaeontologist nowadays you’re pretty much looking at obtaining your maths GCSE C or above, maths A-level, plus a relevant honours degree (see https://nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk/advice/planning/jobprofiles/Pages/palaeontologist.aspx). Horner is proof that you shouldn’t be put off!
Having said this, however, I still think it’s pretty dangerous to want to categorise ourselves too much from an early age. I mean, yes – it’s good to get a feel for what you like, and it’s great to feel encouraged in what you’re good at as you enter into adulthood, but if we decide that’s it, that’s ‘the sort of person’ we are, we’re closing off our options, pigeon-holing ourselves, and pressuring ourselves. We won’t be open to trying out different things in life, seeing if we’re good at those too, or if we’d like to be, and it forces us to be very, very good at just one thing – that’s a lot of pressure.
As a ‘fully-fledged’ adult, I’ve come back to ‘arty’, after having abandoned it when overcome by the feeling I just didn’t cut it (due to that pigeon-holing pressure thing). Now I like to write. And, so, that’s great. But what’s also great is to have figured out that we don’t exist in separate realms, one for those scientifically inclined, the other artistically so. I’m pretty good at other stuff too, but I love writing.
An example of ‘merging realms’, if you like; it is widely known that creative, artistic activity can go a long way to helping someone with a mental health issue. One organisation that brings focus to this is the charity Mind: http://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/drugs-and-treatments/arts-therapies. People who engage in this form of therapy are not all naturally drawn to the arts, obviously, but it can still be possible for them to express themselves and their emotions through the arts at a particular time in their lives, because it works for them then. It can also be a way to repair a lost feeling of power – to regain control of yourself, in that you’re able to express yourself– at a difficult time mentally.
It is also widely known that exercise is a big YES when it comes to aiding those with depression or similar – see http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/Pages/exercise-for-depression.aspx – and, of course, we’re not all into fitness – but we’ll invariably make the effort to achieve what we need at the time.
Whether we are good at maths or good at languages or whatever it may be is neither here nor there. Whether you spend a few years writing a novel, tutoring a pupil in whatever subject, aiding NASA in their research, or creating some children – you’re an artist. Me, I just spent a few years writing a novel. Meanwhile, a friend of mine was busy writing her own story by creating her children – an analogy another friend of mine used, which I love.
The point is – we are all living our lives, painting our pictures, in our own ways, in our own time. We are all artists; we are all creating something, every day.
Samantha holds a degree in English Literature with Film Studies from Kingston University, London, which she gained age 30. Since then she has been writing seriously, having undertaken a fiction writing module via Open University and completed her first young adult fantasy novel, The Sister Worlds, which is available for free download now on ITunes here:
That was really interesting. I was lousy at science, far better at the arts so no wonder I ended up in the writing industry. And yes, writing is so therapeutic… I’ve killed off my next-door neighbour a few times. Great to have you back. Thank you, Samantha.
Samantha began telling stories from a young age, hiding herself away for an hour or so here and there while she spun her tales, living by her imagination (as much as possible within the bounds of reality!) whilst growing up. She began writing the odd poem during her teens, but it wasn’t until her late twenties whilst at university that she understood her true love for writing.
Her tastes are eclectic, not only in her own writing, but in the form and genre of the writing of others. She is inspired by Virginia Woolf and Christina Rossetti, amongst many others, including the work of Margaret Atwood, Jane Austen, Philip K. Dick, Ellen Miller, and Zeruya Shalev. She has most recently been drawn to the work of Abraham Verghese and Patrick Gayle. Her love for the magical and fantastical in fiction is a constant; she has particularly enjoyed the work of Veronica Roth in this respect, and once studied Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep in relation to Ridley Scott’s film Blade Runner. Samantha also has a strong interest in human relationships and mental health, and a love for the innocence of young children and the life and hope they instil in tired-out grown-ups.
With experience as an editor, proofreader and researcher, Samantha is well accomplished and finds this useful when writing and, of course, editing her own work.
Her previous proofreading and editing experience comprises a website research and editing project for the charity Re-Cycle, the proofreading and editing of a website story – also for Re-Cycle – together with the editing of their August and September newsletters; also a novel, short story, and flash fiction piece for author Elizabeth Los, a novel excerpt for author & translator Jasmine Heydari, and the website area and biographies for global broadcast production company Clean Cut Media Ltd. She has also read and edited various documentation including minutes, website material, presentations and more, as part of her administrative background.
Samantha has had three articles published to date and some short fiction. She previously ran a creative writing group on a voluntary basis for Mungos charity.
She is currently writing her second novel and working on a number of exciting new projects, whilst working as Sub-Editor for UnderTheFable magazine and embarking on freelance copywriting. She regularly writes fiction pieces both for her own website, and to be entered into various competitions.
If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. Guidelines on https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/guests/guest-blogs. There are other options listed on opportunities-on-this-blog.
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