It being Advent, it occurred to me that Toad more or less makes an act of contrition in “Alone” in Frog and Toad All Year:
“Frog! I am sorry for the dumb things I do. I am sorry for all the silly things I say. Please be my friend again!” And then he falls into the water with all his sandwiches, amen.
PIC toad with basket
Here is a picture of Arnold Lobel with his daughter, Adrianne:
PIC Lobel with daughter
found here. It says:
She says what she learnt most from her father as an artist was “discipline and faith -and you got up every day and just faced that drawing table whether you had an idea or not, and just kept at it the same hours every day, until you did have an idea. And generally it was a good one.”
Want to make a living doing something creative? Read and re-read and internalize the paragraph above.
It’s also probably a good idea to spend a good, long time creating things that you don’t care about at all — and learn to do a good job at it. If you’re, oh, let’s say, a writer, learn to hit the word count your employer wants, don’t use the words they don’t like, hit all the points they want you to hit, and make it readable even if the topic is deathly dull. And get it in on time, even if you’re sick, or bored, or think you’re too good for this kind of thing.
Your natural talent and your creative spark and your originality are just one aspect of what you have to offer, and they are useless unless you also learn discipline and skill. You’re an exquisite jain-yus? Who cares? Shed the idea that even one single person owes you a reading.
Also, learning how to do a good job whether you’re inspired or not helps you stress out less when you do what to write something that does mean a lot to you. It helps you go, “Oh, well, what the hell” when some editor makes a hash of what you submitted. You did your best, you turned it in, you cashed your check, you moved along.
PIC soapbox. These things need handrails for giant pregnant ladies who need somewhere safe to rant.
Speaking of brilliant, hard-working writers,my second-grader brought her journal home yesterday, and it was full of unfinished stories. Here is one:
“One night Ashley and Maya went to the grave of their old friend, Lisa. It all happed 4 years ago in a grave. The only person with her was her boyfriend, Jim. He claims that she was pulled underground by”
There was an accompanying picture two willowy teenagers with flowing hair, fleeing gracefully from a gravestone with an arm coming up from it. It appears that their dead pal was black. Talk about learning your craft! I don’t know how she knows that that’s how horror movies go, but I think she has a back-up career, if the whole ballerina thing falls through.
We showed the kids The Manchurian Candidate the other day, because, I forget why. We try not to keep stopping movies and explaining things constantly, but remember, we have seven daughters. So when Frank Sinatra meets the lady on the train, my husband got up, found the clicker, smacked “pause,” and said, “All right, now look, girls. If you are on a train and you meet Frank Sinatra, and he is all sweaty and shaky, and can’t even light his own cigarette, you do not give him your address.”
PIC Sinatra. She’s thinking, “Unstable? Secretive? Bathed in nervous sweat? HOT DIGGITY!”
In the interest of fairness, he also counselled the boys against proposing to girls who are clearly nuts just because they happen to take their shirts off when you get bitten by a snake.
In other news, I had forgotten just how weird this movie is.
Would you like to laugh until the dog gets worried? Check out Bad Kid Jokes. These are the jokes that kids sent into a joke site, and which they couldn’t use for . . . one reason or another. Sample:
A MAN ALWAYS LAUGHING HIS NAME IS WILLSON.
1 DAY A FREIND OF WILLSON ASK HIM:WHY YOU ALWAYS HAPPY?
WILLSON LOOK HIM FREIND AND SLAP HIM FREIND
AND THAT DAY WILLSON NEVER LAUGH BECAUSE WILLSON IS GHOST NOW
Benny helped me make a side dish for supper the other day.
Her recipe included baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cheese, sage, eggs, and miscellaneous. While breathing heavily, whisk all ingredients together until you’re bored. Let congeal, then move onto wrecking up the bathroom.
This is the kind of thing that makes people say, “Oh, you are such an easygoing mother! You have such interior freedom! What wonderful peace you must have cultivated!” and I’m like, “No, this way I can be on Facebook.” Given the choice, I will almost always choose cleaning up a mess over keeping things under reasonable control. That’s why we have ten kids. It just seemed easier than not having ten kids.
Speaking of getting things wrong, it reminds me of this:
Mrs. Moskowitz: Hello?
Cultivated voice: Good awfternoon. I am calling to inquire whether you might be available to come to tea with her ladyship Tuesday after next.
Mrs. Moskowitz: OY, have you got the wrong number.
And that’s a wrap. After many years, Jen Fulwiler has passed the Seven Quick Takes torch onto the hilarious Kelly Mantoan of This Ain’t the Lyceum. Head on over and say hello to Kelly and check out all the other QTs. Happy Friday!