Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Lesson learned from an ant

We camped here this weekend- well actually over there on the other side, above Moab Utah on Sand Flats. The front side of the pic is Dead Horse Point. Pretty grand impressive vistas, very God inspiring. But this post is about one tiny ant who resides near the camp site we stayed at.
In the morning he found a bit of chocolate wrapper under the picnic table, dropped from the s'more making the night before and proceed to carry it back to his ant hill at the edge of the campsite. We noticed him because the wrapper was like three times his size. We were dully impressed. Than all of a sudden, he put down the wrapper and picked up a rock, well a pebble, but a rock to him and started to carry it the opposite direction.  We were concluding he must actually be a pretty stupid ant, until he dropped the rock and came back to the wrapper, picked it up and continued towards the ant hill. Before our eyes, an ant had the presence of mind to remove an obstacle in front of him, that was inhibiting his goal of getting his goods to his anthill!!

Wow- if we could only learn to do such things. Made me think- sometimes we do need to persist, keep on keeping on- but I think we get encouraged to persist more often than we do to evaluate our situation and remove the obstacles that are blocking our way, because sometime slightly changing our course of action, or taking the time to remove the obstacles has bigger results.

In all the conference, workshop, etc. I have attended and purusing the internet's art and writing groups- there is more encouragement to "keep doing what you are doing" and surely, eventually it will all work out- and not so much encouragement to do some "self evaluation".

I have listen so often to a new writers or artist express their frustration with the biz and how "unfair" it all is. I also have seen the large steel door fall over their eyes as the sirens start to blare and red flashing lights start to spin over their heads when I suggest they might want to think of switching genres, take some classes or consider some critique of their work. To take a line from The Princess Bride, "it is inconceivable," proving "that ant" is smarter than they are.

I was in a critique workshop with a really talented writer, very descriptive in her settings and characters, who was convinced she should write picturebook, though everyone told her she had to pare down her lovely descriptive words- but she had not interest in considering  writing chapter books.

I am dumbfounded by writers who are offended by even the idea of learning what three act structure, plotting, set ups and pay off, etc. ARE, let alone using them to create a better story.

Or in Art- have no interest in learning the Design rules or considering others critique. That ant is smarter!

Yes I have some natural talent in Art- but my success comes from evaluation, mine and others- and changing- or a better word would be learning- which directly came from teaching- meaning I had to take others advice- it really is not the horrid thing some think.

I am not doing exactly what I dreamed of doing- I wanted to create illustrations like Maurice Sendek- pen and ink and water color- I could still be doing that- and be frustrated as hell , unpublished, but seek solace in going to writer and art boards on the web and getting comfort by being told to "keep on keeping on" and that Ant would be smarter than me!  Don't worry- there are plenty areas of my life that ant is way smarter than me! And my road to illustrating and writing children's book is still an uphill battle- but at least the trail is clear.


  1. Wow! This is such a brilliant post - thank you for sharing this!
    It resonates with me very well, and though I try to think outside of the box - or remove the rock lying in my path - all too often I keep banging against that rock and wondering why life is so hard. Thank you for reminding me to be creative and find another way to follow the path :-)

  2. Don't you just love ants? They are amazing, aren't they?