Wednesday, November 02, 2016

27 cans of paint does not a painter make

I was standing in the bathroom this morning contemplating the on-going, never-ending paint job and I realized it really REALLY sux.  There are missed spots where my arms were too short to reach with a brush, and the access too narrow to get with a roller.  There are dabs of the wall color on the ceiling. Dabs of the ceiling color on the wall. It's pretty clear I didn't do a very good job.

But you know what? I had fun. Ok, maybe not fun, but it was a valuable experience. I loved testing the colors, and I love how the apartment has some vim and verve now instead of plain white walls.

It's true, I'll never be asked to paint anyone's apartment should they ever see this place (yea, Colin, I'm looking at you!) and House Beautiful isn't setting up a photo shoot. I'm totally fine with that.

It's ok to suck at something if you enjoy doing it. Not everything has to be professional level performance.  Not everything has to be for display either on the internet or in a magazine.  In other words, if you like doing it, that might just be enough. It doesn't have to be your job, or your calling.

You see where I'm going here.

If you love to write, you don't have to be published for your writing to have value and purpose.  For starters, once you know how hard it is to write a novel, you'll have a deeper appreciation of other writers.  Once you've written a novel, you'll be able to see subtle writing skills in other writers' works.

Testing 27 paint colors taught me a lot about color. Flirting with Razzle Dazzle and Bermuda Breeze taught me that even colors I love love love might not be the right color for the job at hand. Trying new things in your writing might not work, but it's the trying itself that has value.

If you love to write, and you don't ever want to be published, give yourself permission to be a 27-paint-sample-can writer: do it cause you want to, and the hell with what anyone else thinks.

And the interesting thing is: I swore I would never paint my apartment myself again, but now that I'm almost this close to being done, I'm thinking I will, cause I want to see if I can do it better next time.  And I still want to find a place to slap on some Razzle Dazzle!




53 comments:

nightsmusic said...

*blinks*

Razzle Dazzle?

*blinks again*

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Bill Murray, STRIPES, as the recruits begin their graduation.
"Razzle dazzle."
If I knew how to link, I'd do it.

Yup, perfect for today's post.
If you love it, do it. The results might just surprise you.

Bethany Elizabeth said...

This post is so spot-on. There are times I get freaked out that I'll never be published, and I start to wonder if I'm a good writer at all. Then I pause, think to myself, "So what?" and go back to finish my story.

It's for the love of the game. We're all fools for the love of the game.

Kitty said...

I have much better luck writing when I don't think about being published or winning a Janet Reid flash fiction contest. My priority is getting the story out of my head, onto 'paper' and allowing it to tell me where it should go.

Here y'go, nightmusic: razzle dazzle

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

Hey, the only way to get better at something is keep going, right? ;)

But don't worry, Janet, if I need something painted and you're in the area, you're more than welcome to come and help. I've got all this whiskey I'm not allowed to drink anymore.

Happy NaNoWriMo, to those partaking! I had a pretty good start yesterday. Pantsing, as always. Maybe one day I'll learn.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Ha! You go, O Sharkly One. I was never one who wanted to muddy my colors either. However, my kids do. Hm . . .

Yes. To think about publishing while I write makes my stomach frogleap into my throat. So I don't. Think about it. My goal is to have a published novel but right now I focus on study, write, read. Ad infinitum.

What Bethany Elizabeth said. It's for the love.

AJ Blythe said...

Hate to think I'll never get published 'cause I do want to reach that star. But even if I don't the writing won't stop. I'll be aspiring to reach that star forever and a day if that's what it takes - I have too many words in my head!

DLM said...

Janet, there is a feature wall in my bedroom which is a purple not entirely less vivid than Razzle Dazzle, and yet somehow it is the most calming, peaceful room in the world. Even my MOM loves it, and she still gets hives at my beautiful turquoise green mantel. Your Razzle Dazzle spot will make itself known, perhaps when the exact lamp you needed for that one table presents itself, and says, "Hi, I need a pink wall to properly POP for you. Thanks!"

I've long held that being a pre-published author allows me a state of liberty as an author that can get dangerously seductive sometimes. As it happens, and thank goodness, I've been in a productive period recently. Which is even more seductive still, and bats its eyelashes at me and makes unspeakable promises I want it to see through.

Oh my, that got unseemly in a hurry. I must go shopping for lamps and cool down.

Linda Strader said...

When I wrote my memoir, I never dreamed in a million years I would end up wanting to publish and on the road to being published. I'm writing a prequel, and most days I think "no way will I ever publish this one, so why are you bothering?" Then I promptly tell myself, "Write it anyway."

As for reaching those out of reach spots, I have LOTS of painting experience, having painted every room in my 2000 sq. ft. house with 12 foot ceilings twice. In a multitude of southwestern colors, too. Anyway, when my ladder wouldn't reach, my arms were too short, I taped the brush firmly to one of those extendable poles made for just that purpose. Takes a steady hand..but I did it.

Ovidia Yu said...

Thank you very much for this. I do enjoy writing but sometimes worry I'm not taking it 'seriously ' enough, whatever that means. But yes, I'm going to go on enjoying myself, despite the parts I can't quite reach. And I'm going to use all the Razzle Dazzle I want!

Steve Forti said...

Oh boy. It may not have been Razzle Dazzle exactly, but before my daughter was born, we painted her room almost that exact color... then immediately painted over it with a lighter, more muted pink. What looked great on the paint card was an abomination once on the wall. Like being trapped in a giant wad of bubble gum. But to the analogy, we could only know that by trying it first. Also, it looks pretty cool when you then paint the ceiling a faint sky blue and sponge on some puffy white clouds.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Razzle Dazzle screams accent wall. Yes, you risk making a room look like a Boudoir Parlor - just add crystal chandelier, some bling and a bar, you'll have a right respectable establishment. Now that I think about it - Janet's Bar & Boudoir will fit nicely into my WIP.

And I better damn well love writing or this NaNoWriMo business is just silly. Maybe I will publish one day. Maybe not but I do intend to keep trying. Until every single agent and publisher on planet Earth begs me to stop. Then I will just take aim at Carkoon. And if death takes me first, well my ghost will keep on writing be it in Heaven or Hell or places in between.

Cheers to the rest of you doing NaNo. See you in the trenches.

RachelErin said...

I love what you said about appreciating other work more deeply after doing it yourself. It's a gift to the self that never ends. I spent hours and hours playing the clarinet in high school, at one point preparing to audition at a conservatory (also lots of orchestras, etc), and I pretty much stopped in college.

But I've never considered those hours wasted. When I listen to music, I can hear EVERYTHING and I love it.

With writing I have mixed feelings. So far I can't both get caught up in a brilliant book and analyze the structure and writing. And since I do write myself (I never composed), when there is something off, ideas about how one might fix it break into the story (or movie). I'm planning to re-read some of the rare books that swept me away, but my TBR pile is so big, it keeps getting put off. Still figuring out how to balance appreciation, enjoyment, and craft building.

Colin Smith said...

We have four bedrooms, my study, the living room, the dining room, and the lobby to paint by Saturday. Of those, one bedroom is finished, one is half done, one is a third done, one--ours--hasn't been started, the living room is almost half done, and my study hasn't been started. We have a lot to do in a short space of time. Especially considering some of those walls need to be primed first. My point: sometimes talent and skill is not required to get a job done (lookin' back at ya, Janet).

This is why a lot of first drafts and NaNo projects are crap. Because at that first pass, you're not engaging all your writing chops--you're just getting words out of your head as fast as you can before you forget the story. The skill and artistry comes in the second and subsequent drafts and revisions.

Unfortunately, I don't think there will be any second or subsequent passes for these walls. We're going to be sick of the sight of paint by the time we're done. But hopefully they'll look good enough to make the house our home. :)

nightsmusic said...

kitty I think you were posting to 2N's, not me :) I was cringing at the paint color.

steve forti I've done that. Seen a color I couldn't live without on the paint card and gagged over once it was on the walls.

Maybe, Janet, painting some tchotchkes that color instead might be a better idea? Your sanity is very important to us after all...

Julie Weathers said...

I, fortunately or unfortunately, could do a professional tape and bed job as well as painting due to past life experiences. I'm just not sure I want to. Having remodeled three houses, it's lost the appeal. Having said that, I probably will at some point because I'm too cheap to pay someone else.

Pink Ladies is about the shade of the holding cells in the Midland, Texas jail. It's supposed to be calming. It isn't.

As stated before, razzle dazzle screams accent wall if pink is your thing.

To the topic! I do write with an eye toward publication because it would be validation. I also write because I enjoy it. I have stories that need to be told. I want to share them with people. So, I'll do the best I can, I can do no less, and proceed on.



Melanie Sue Bowles said...

The hallway between my bedroom and the living area is a rich, saturated yellow. I call it "The Portal of Sunshine" and every morning I declare that I'm going to "make it a great day." Usually works out.

Excellent post, Janet. There are times in life when we need someone else to say, "Settle the ef down." It gives us permission to do just that when we're burdened with self-imposed high expectations. *deep breath

There's an interesting twist in my journey. Writing the stories of the abused/neglected horses who found their way to our sanctuary was cathartic for me. The idea of getting them published did not occupy one single spec of my brain. I shared the stories with a friend who encouraged me to seek publication. I was reluctant; that wasn't the goal or even a dream. She persisted. For grins, I researched "getting published" ...this was a little over 15 yrs ago. What the hell is a query letter? I educated myself and put one together. The first publisher I sent it to (a small but reputable house) offered me a contract. We had a great relationship for two more books. Here's the twist: I wasn't focused on getting my nonfiction published, but it happened with little to no angst. Now I'm diving into the world of fiction, and just slightly obsessed with getting published - okay, I want it more than anything - but I'm struggling and flopping around like a mackerel on the dock. I've always been a "it's about the journey" kind of person, so I'm inspired and determined to figure out what I'm doing wrong and what steps I need to take to make my dream a reality. As my daddy always said: "It's all part of the rich fabric of life."

Brigid said...

One of my favorite places for bright colors is in semi-hidden pops — the inside of cabinets, or the back of bookshelves, or the underside of an archway / inside of a doorway. It just makes me so happy.

I love hearing about the value of writing itself, separate from publishing. It does my heart good. Thank you for the recent posts on this.

CynthiaMc said...

I love color. I color code everything.

I've been published. It was wonderful. I want to do it again, but once I've done something my tendency is to find something else I haven't done to conquer. Screenwriting was fun, but now I know I can do that, too. My blog was the new thing but now I'm bored with it.

The quest to be published sucked the fun out of writing, but I still want to write my magnum opus so for now I'm writing anything that feels like fun. My characters (both my Civil War characters in the trilogy and my future world characters in their however many books they take) are ending up in some harrowing places that have me waking up at 3 am to write before work just to see what they're up to next. So my goal for now is to just have fun with it. And paradoxically I'm writing more than ever.

Julie Weathers said...

Totally off topic. We're having a discussion about writing idioms and dialects on Books and Writers. Someone referred the questioner to a thread from 2012 about how Diana Gabaldon approaches writing the Scottish dialect.

This is of interest to me because of the different speech patterns in Rain Crow. The first rule, of course, is to be consistent in whatever pattern you set.

Anyway, yesterday we were talking about market saturation and how much people read. Today, Diana referred someone to her Librarything listing. It has 2,200+ entries of books she has read for people interested in what kinds of books she reads and researches.

If you haven't thought about adding your collection to Librarything, it's fairly simple to do and is a good way to stay organized.

And now, I have scurrilous bankers and lawyers to outflank in 1861.

Steve Stubbs said...

You wrote:

“I was standing in the bathroom this morning contemplating the on-going, never-ending paint job and I realized it really REALLY sux. There are missed spots where my arms were too short to reach with a brush, and the access too narrow to get with a roller. There are dabs of the wall color on the ceiling. Dabs of the ceiling color on the wall. It's pretty clear I didn't do a very good job.”

Don’t despair. Painting that did not look nearly as good as your apartment made Jackson Pollock famous.

You can buy a small step ladder from WalMart that will fit well in your closet when you don’t need it and will allow you to reach anywhere you want. They are very inexpensive. You can also buy stuff online and have it delivered. If you have high shelves in your closet or kitchen it can be useful for more than just painting.

You can also protect ceilings from wall paint and walls from ceiling paint with masking tape and some old newspaper. Painting will still be a chore, but you can feel good about the finished product,

Craig F said...

Think bigger and bolder. Don't settle for practice makes you better. Set the bar higher.

Bold, primary colors make better demarcation lines. Pinks tend to look blurry around the edges. Go with bright reds and deep greens. Make it count so you it doesn't remind you of that bottle of Pepto-Bismal that sat in the cupboard for twenty years.

In writing you also need to be bold. Visceral. Shake the tree enough that it is memorable. Step out like you know where you are going and others will notice.

Kat Waclawik said...

I recently finished listening to Brandon Sanderson's BYU writing lectures. (They are excellent, by the way, especially if you are of a SF/F bent. The intro and the first lecture are here:

http://brandonsanderson.com/2016-sanderson-lectures/

Linkifying is beyond me, unfortunately.)

Anyway, today's post reminded me of a comment he made in the first lecture. He compared writing to playing basketball. If you tell people you like to spend a few hours a week playing basketball, people assume you're doing it because you enjoy it and it's good for you. No one asks when you plan on trying out for the NBA. But if you tell them you like to spend a few hours a week writing, their next question is always when you're going to publish.

The point being, it's okay to write just because you enjoy it and it's good for you. For some reason, that analogy really clicked for me. I do want to be published some day, but, if that never happens, I can still be happy I spent all this time on something I enjoy and that's good for me.

Dena Pawling said...


Colors can be legally significant.

I evicted a tenant in a Los Angeles rent controlled apartment because he painted his interior walls black.

I obtained a restraining order against a homeowner for violating the CC&Rs of the development, for painting the exterior walls of his home in a color very similar to Razzle Dazzle.

I will write my Razzle Dazzle book even if the industry seems to only want black. Because I enjoy it. And maybe I'll start a new trend.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Thanks Kitty.
I'm link deficient.

Colin Smith said...

Kat's link: http://brandonsanderson.com/2016-sanderson-lectures/

Mark Ellis said...

As a painting contractor, I'd love to comment on all this, but I actually have a trim job out in Scappoose and have to get going. I will say that Janet has saved herself approximately two grand by doing this herself.

Claire Bobrow said...

The one thing I know is that I'm having fun writing. It may lead to nothing - a big, fat zero. But if I can crack myself up, or make my eyes water, I count that a win. I say all that with bravado, having just sent off a MS to an agent for a critique. As soon as I hit "Send" I thought - OMG! - what have I sent her? The worst piece of writing of all time!!

2Ns and Kitty: thank you for that Razzle Dazzle! I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who fondly remembers "Stripes." Maybe we'll get to see Bill Murray do that again if the Cubs win...

Joseph Snoe said...

After yesterday’s post on the saturated market for thrillers (and most novels for that matter), I had to wonder why I was becoming a hermit to complete ‘Escape from Brazil.’ Yesterday, at least, I found myself reading a novel at my writing desk instead of revising my story until late in the evening.

I’ll finish revising. I hope I’m making the novel better. As to why I’ll finish, first is because it’s important to me to finish it. I’ll get somebody to read it even if I have to send it around by email.

Second, it may be (and should be) published. I’ve been through the process where my colleagues and friends told me no company would publish my casebook because I was a solo author, from a small southern school, writing a casebook in a field in which I was relatively unknown. It was published (For you lawyers, it was published by West Group, pretty much top of the line company). So I’ve tread these waters before.

Third, I amuse and entertain myself, and I’m seldom bored doing it - frustrated and depressed at times yes, but not bored. For example, I brightened my morning typing this:

“Maybe nobody will notice. That picture doesn’t look like me. That moronic smile. Those eyes rolled up under the eyelids.”
“It looks exactly like you. Let’s move.”

So I’ll continue to write. If novels flop, I’ll try songs. I’ve had a hankering to do that all my life too. (Actually if I get to a second E.J. Sniegorksi novel, a major character will be a songwriter/singer.)

And, as mentioned by others, writing changes the way I relate to novels and other books.

Lennon Faris said...

Ooh, I like EM's idea of an accent wall. When done well, those can really look colorful AND classy in a home.

I do understand what you're saying Janet and I do love this post. But I also think most storytellers/ writers want other people to see or hear their stories. That aspect is just so gratifying.

Hope all you NaNoWriMo folks are having fun!

number1texgirl@gmail.com said...

I love "Razzle Dazzle." I wear it all the time. I don't care if I look as big as a wall.

I painted a bathroom "High Noon" (sunburn yellow) one time. I'm afraid the location and time are descriptive of my writing. Think about it.

Joseph Snoe said...

The Razzle Dazzle scene from STRIPES. You'll have to cut and paste this link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FOzub_ghAbM

Colin Smith said...

Joe: Or not... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FOzub_ghAbM :)

Kate Larkindale said...

I'm pretty terrible at pairing too. Every time I lie in the bath I notice the splodges of yellow and blue on the ceiling from where I once painted the bathroom yellow with blue trim. Since then, we've repainted it the same colors as the outside of the house (we had some exterior paint leftover) so those little splotches are all I have to remind me of that first, ill-advised paint job.

And just FYI, exterior paint is great in the bathroom. Completely waterproof and doesn't get moldy. I'll never paint a bathroom with anything else again! Although, it's a little bit kooky to have an interior room that looks exactly the same as the outside of the house...

Donna said...

My office was supposed to be Passionate (pink) but it turned out Pepto Bismol.

Colin Smith said...

Donna: If I recall correctly, the color I selected for my office is called Dovetail.

Donnaeve said...

Good old Razzle Dazzle, I wondered when it might reappear.

For the many who write, simply to write, I admire you. Writing is hard work, and to do it with no expectations other than you love it is something else. That's what a real writer is. That's what a real writer does.

Kudos to those who pound out words, just because.

kellypea said...

Hmmm. I've received your posts by email for years and have enjoyed them all. I've never commented until now, so am wondering about the magic of paint that has lured me to finally say something. Perhaps it's that I have a novel which has been professionally edited, yet sits waiting for its fate while I think about all the rooms in all the homes I've painted for years. I love to paint; I just don't love getting on a ladder any longer. The idea of falling is enough to keep me grounded. Yeah, I see the connection. As for Razzle Dazzle, don't we all need a bit of that in places least expected? Sure we do!

Susan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kathy joyce said...

I'm looking to see what Steve Forti might do with razzle dazzle as a FF prompt! I can't see a thing.

My kids picked out the color of their bathroom. I call it "mid-century pukey institutional green."

kathy joyce said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Colin Smith said...

Hey, kellypea! Welcome out of the shadows... or is it the Charcoal Greys, or Montgomery Blacks (is there such a color?)? :) I have one question for you: are you busy over the next couple of days? If not, grab a paintbrush and roller and come round to our place! ;)

Colin Smith said...

Kathy: You know, with all these paint color names floating around, I wouldn't be surprised if there's a related contest. We'll see Friday--though I'll be in the throes of moving Fri and Sat. Oh well. I'd participate, I just wouldn't vouch for the quality of my work. Much like my painting. ;)

Beth said...

Janet, Razzle-dazzle looks to me like the perfect color for a bathroom mirror frame. I once heard of a lady who was comtemplating a facelift, but instead she painted the ceiling of her bathroom pink and now she looks great.

When I was a girl, I was obsessed with horses. I read every book in the library. I finally got one at fourteen, only to discover that while I love horses, I'm a horrid rider. That's okay. I can still love horses and occasionally ride one, badly.

Angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

Razzle Dazzle is a beautiful color. Pink is supposed to have a calming effect. Great choice.

It's nice to read this post. When I decided I didn't care to publish my writing it felt like I shed a layer. It was fun to play with that dream and I learned loads about the fiction craft. It helped me to be a better and more exigent reader. I can also appreciate a good paint job. There is more to painting walls than brushing or rolling pigment.

CynthiaMc said...

Our office at work was recently painted. Everyone loved the color and many wanted to know what it was. I called the painter - Silver Mist. It's not silver, it's blue. Well, blu-ish, kinda.

Audrey Shaffer said...

At my last house, I painted my office lilac. It looked great in the can, but on the walls it looked white. As dusk fell, the walls started looking darker and darker, until the sky was dark and the walls were a beautiful light purple. It happened every day, and I enjoyed it every time. :)

Manda Zim said...

Love painting. Get it all over me, but I figure if I wasn't dirty, I didn't do it right. Razzle Dazzle is definitely an accent wall, maybe in a pattern of overlapping circles with a couple other colors from the chip on a more muted background.

Good luck to the NaNo folks!

El El Piper said...

Writing my book, crafting sentences, story telling, world building--ALL of it has helped my letter writing, speech writing and thought process. I write much faster now and more effectively. I'd love to see my book published after I finish this third rewrite....
But in the meantime, I'm the person elected to write a biography of our family member in an assisted living, who may not be with us much longer. I'm the person that my local school improvement group approached, seeking a write up making the case for school improvements with a personal voice. I write these things gladly. Yet I could never have done this before, weirdly enough, without my experience writing about a teenage girl pulled through time and space by a mysterious entity.

Megan V said...


While pink and I do not get along, I love the swatch names and the analogy.

I'm with JulieW when it comes to writing—write with an eye towards publication, but writing because I love it more than anything else.



Caitlin Lane said...

I would definitely have to slap up at least one wall of Razzle Dazzle in my house. Unfortunately, renting isn't always conducive to painting whatever you want. When I eventually own my own house, I swear every room will end up being a different color because I'll be so excited to paint my own walls.

Otherwise, beautiful sentiment. :)

John Davis Frain said...

Razzle Dazzle is the love child of Techno Thriller and Paranormal Romance.

I'm getting a late start on Day Two of Nano, but I'll get my 1,667 words in before I crash. I've already written them longhand, now I have to keystroke.

Yo, Mountain Dew! You're on.

Michelle Kudelka said...

I've been quietly observing this blog forever (and learning a lot!) but Razzle Dazzle is finally what's going to take me out of my shell.

It needs to be an accent FURNITURE color. A small round, mid-century style end table, or a slim entry table.