The comic first: I was cleaning out another one of Richard’s file cabinets the other day. (He had eight four-drawer file cabinets full of teaching files, academic publications, expert witness work, and three decades of Fine Woodworking, Fine Homebuilding, and assorted sculpture magazines; plus office supplies–the man loved binder clips.)
At the bottom of one drawer, I found a yellowed bit of newspaper, slightly crumpled. I extracted it carefully, smoothed it out, and burst out laughing. (Click on the the comic to enlarge it.)
That particular strip could have been written specifically for my late love. Richard was a mathematician who “spoke” in complex equations, casually spinning out strings of numbers and variables to model some phenomenon, and also an artist who never, ever could successfully estimate how long it would take him to finish any creative project.
Once, after watching him struggle to get a handle on how long a project would take, I suggested he take his best estimate and triple or quadruple it. He was shocked–he couldn’t imagine it would take so long to complete anything, even when, over and over again, it actually did.
- I finally figured out why it was so hard for him: he estimated from experience, and he could only remember the amount of time his hands were actually on the tools. He forgot the thinking time that preceded and wove through the hands-on work, the time our friend Jerry Scavezze, goldsmith extraordinaire, calls R&D time (research and development). The R&D time is often much longer than the hands-on time (sometimes by years), hence the wild inaccuracy of Richard’s project-time estimates.
I learned to not have expectations about when he would finish a particular piece, to just enjoy what emerged, like “Prosthesis,” which sits where I can admire it every day, running a hand across its polished top and remembering my love and the extraordinary creativity that wove through every aspect of his life.
Now, that keynote. I promised that I would post the video of “Writing With Heart,” my keynote at the October Women Writing the West Conference. And here it is, thanks to the video shooting and editing talents of Laureen Pepersack of REV Productions in Santa Fe.
The video is 34 minutes long, so in order make the download manageable, it comes in two parts. I called the talk “Writing With Heart” because I was speaking to an audience of writers; it’s not, however, specific to writing. It’s about how to bring our authentic selves to any creative endeavor–including everyday life itself. You could substitute “art” or “science” or “living” for writing and the point would be essentially the same.
Take a look, let me know what you think, and feel free to pass the links on to others. And, as I say in the video, thank you for being part of my community.