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Meet Roderick W. MacIver
This talented artist creates a site called "Heron Dance" to publish his online newsletter and display his artworks, which are treats to be joyously anticipated each time. A dear and multiply-talented friend alerted me to this site several years ago, but I'm embarrassed to admit that I've neglected to share it with my friends till now, so it is "high time" I did so!
The paintings of nature, especially, are breathtakingly lovely and also his personal "letter" to his members is always refreshing and often inspiring. If I were given to envy, I could quite easily be envious in all areas of his excellence!
In addition to this great artwork, he also authors books related to and highlighting his art and his intense interest in nature. As though all that were not enough, he seems to be a really likable, authentic kind of guy, someone who would be a delight in "eyeball-to-eyeball" discourse on a variety of subjects.
But what has prompted me now to bring these things to your attention is that this current periodic letter to his viewers is exquisitely appropriate for creative writers, so much so that I am impelled to share it with my fellow Hubbers! All the rest of the treats included are simply bonuses for you which I hope you'll love too.
Ordinarily I would avoid simply posting a lengthy verbatim quote and, if I felt it greatly needed sharing, at least I'd attempt to paraphrase its message. But, quite honestly, this time the only way to share it adequately is to include the entire quotation! Would one attempt to paraphrase Shakespeare, I ask you? Not I! So I'm hoping that you won't object, while I fully believe you'll understand my reasoning as you read it. The language of it is as special to it as the message it delivers, a message which may encourage any of us as writers if or when our challenges might seem enough to crush our creativity. Instead, this message assures us that they actually fuel it and may even be essential to bring forth the best that is in us! Does that not sound worthwhile?
I've been thinking about it ever since I read it a few days ago, and have since been looking for the best way to share it with my colleagues here. I've simply felt that for me to try to paraphrase it would spoil it. I think you'll see why. Besides, Rod MacIver has already paraphrased the message he was sharing and passing along from his friend, Archie Campbell, so nothing for me to do but simply to post the whole letter verbatim for your pleasure! To my best knowledge, this Archibald Campbell is not related to the historic man of the same name, nor to any Hubber we know!
Read on, my friends . . . . By the way, you just might need a box of tissues because if you're anything like me, you'll not only get the serious message, but you'll probably laugh so hard there will be tears streaming down your cheeks! So get out the tissues and keep them within reach.
The Letter - Verbatim
"Dear Heron Dancers:
"Archibald Campbell stopped by my place for a little visit this last week. I hadn't seen him in a while. He was finishing a book, he said, and getting over a love affair gone wrong. He wanted to talk about failure. I could tell he was a little down. I'm going to try to paraphrase what he had to say, because I found it interesting.
"I'm an expert in failure, he said. The creative process is about failure. People think it is about talent, but it is about failure. Being single is about failure. People who can't live with failure should go to work at the post office. Or get married.
"I pointed out that he couldn't be that much of a failure. Every time I see him he's with a different woman, and they are all interesting and all attractive. Well, he said, “I've been rejected by more women in the last year than you've been rejected by in your whole life. That's just the way it is, and I'm okay with it. Human history, given what it is, does not speak very well for human nature. Or human judgment. If most people liked me, I'd be like a politician. No, I'd rather emulate the outcasts—the people they hang from the cross. The people they reject—the Jesuses, the Walt Whitmans, the Henry David Thoreaus. The people who are revered after they are safely dead and don't threaten the established order of things.” Archie had kind of an edge to him that afternoon. Like I said, he was a little down.
"And the creative process is about failure. The creative process is about writing your book for years and then throwing it in the fire one night because you know it is no good. And the creative process is about starting again the next morning and doing it right. And then, when you finally get it written so that you feel okay about it, it gets rejected. Not salable. But you keep trying, because you believe in it. You believe you have something to say. So yes, there's ego involved. And maybe some alcohol. Maybe you need a little alcohol to believe that the world is wrong and you are right.
"Then there's the other failure in the creative process and in life—a lack of belief in yourself, a lack of self-discipline. You are supposed to sit down and write your book, but instead you answer emails and meander around on Facebook. It is a lot more fun approving friends on Facebook than it is failing at a painting. Picasso created over 50,000 works of art in his life. He did 10,000 of those in the last ten years of his life—that's an average of three a day when he was in his eighties. If you think those were all masterpieces, you haven't seen them, but regardless of what he did or didn't do the previous day, he got up in the morning and went to work. He didn't fool around on Facebook.
"The real problem with failure, Archie said, isn't failure but mediocrity. The failures are obvious, and you can deal with them. The problems are the mediocrities that you keep pouring energy into in the hope that they will make it. Just a little more time, a little more energy, and bammo! Success! Except it never happens. It's always just a little more effort. That applies to relationships as much as it does to the creation of art, to the writing of books. The mediocrities are the energy sappers, the projects that are almost right, the relationships that almost work. But they don't. In order to have energy to put into the winners, you need to slough off the mediocrities. But it isn't easy to walk away.
"Yes, in general, the good books get published and the lousy books don't. So it isn't a total crap shoot. And yes, the single people who go through life with a good heart, and goodwill, and who don't mind rejection, don't really lack for company. But the hardest part is acceptance. Accepting your work for what it is after you've poured your heart and soul into it, accepting others for who they are, flaws and beauty and all. Accepting reality: beautiful and mysterious. Accepting reality, even the reality that keeps presenting the same lessons over and over--lessons you need to learn but don't want to. Even that reality has its beauty.
"By then, Archie had finished off my last beer. He left. Going out for a paddle on the river, he said. Alone.
"In celebration of the Great Dance of Life,
"Roderick W. MacIver"
It's my hope that you will enjoy that letter and what are surely major truths in it as much as I did. Knowing the kind of readers I have, it seems highly probable.
Of course, I'm also feeling virtually sure that you'll experience the sense of joyous wonderment and freedom from mundane cares that his glorious watercolours and other works engender! I use that word "engender" because they don't necessarily "hit one between the eyes" so much as implant themselves to grow and expand, almost like nature itself often does. Some of them may grab your sensibilities instantly but many may slowly begin to awaken and take hold of a deeper consciousness. At least, those have been among my experiences with them.
If you haven't been previously introduced to this astonishing man, I'm pleased to now do so. If you're already a fan, then I trust that it will be a refreshing reminder for you!
So, what more need be said? His charming works speak for themselves! I thank the artist for them and thank you for indulging me by sharing him and his works!
Link to Heron Dance!
Click here to: Visit the Heron Dance website!