Sunday, February 10, 2008


“I wish I'd known your mother.”

“She said everyone...everyone, if he's rich or he's poor, if he's somebody big or nobody at all--everyone has a grace.” A look of peace came over his embattled face when he said the word grace. “You know what a grace is?”


“A grace is a thing you get from God, you use it to make a better world, or not use it, you have to choose.”

“Like your art,” I said. “Like your beautiful drawings.”

He said, “Like your pancakes.”

~~ From Brother Odd by Dean Koontz

When I was a kid, I was significantly better at art than most people. It got commented on pretty much every time a person watched me sketch for the first time. My standard response was, “Everybody is good at something.”

I guess another way to phrase it would be everyone has a grace.

Regarding writing, I've been stuck in the dark teatime of the soul for about a month now. Faced with rejection letters and my own realization that what I've written may not be publishable, I've been paralyzed.

I am recovering, but reading that one line, A grace is a thing you get from God, you use it to make a better world, or not use it, you have to choose, was probably the thing that initiated my rebound. You have to choose to use the abilities you were given. Thus spake Zarathustra: if you can, then do.

The character in Brother Odd who says this is not a professional artist. He's a mentally and physically challenged young man who draws as a way to make his memories of his dead mother concrete. You could argue he's not making the world a noticeably better place by decorating his own walls, but it's still better than if he chose not to draw. He is using what he's got, without concern for whether others will buy the drawings, or like them, or even see them.

I find it too easy to decide not to write today, to not draw or paint today. If I'm feeling depressed about whether my art compares well with that of others, it can lead to me feeling an aversion to creating anything at all.

I'm starting to understand that I have to just choose to do this. The quality of the final product is not as important as that choice, because every little bit is better than nothing.

I'm also reminded how literature can make your life better in ways that go well beyond entertainment value. Thanks, Dean Koontz.

~~Have you ever adjusted the course of your life thanks to a line you read in a book? If so, what line was it (if you can find the source material), and what change did you make?

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