I started drawing my first flowers in my drawing and watercolor class. The first day was challenging! I was attempting to draw a person. Today is better. I just had to draw a flower. My teacher said I did well. I am learning about composition this week. I have been waiting for years to take a drawing and watercolor class along with the art quilting class I plan to take next month. We are reading Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards. I have had that book for years. We also had a great conversation about high art versus low art, the myriad of ways people have expressed themselves creatively and how we have just appreciated art for art’s sake. My teacher said my drawing might have been too detailed. I felt that was a good thing. It meant I was paying attention to what was all around me.
I had to rip it! Frog it! Unbelievable! Who heard the instructions wrong?! More than likely it was me! “Cast on 25 stitches, knit in garter stitch until the skein runs out. “ Fine, no problem. I found out today, though, that knit 1, purl 1 means knit one stitch, purl the next stitch, not knit one row and purl the next row. I couldn’t figure out why my yarn was drawing in on itself like moistened crepe paper. I was almost done with the skein! I had to rip it out, start all over again. “You’ll never get that out, even with blocking,” people told me. What?! I thought that that’s what blocking was for! To get out anything that rolled up. This explains why I ruined a perfectly good sweater years ago. Long story. . . . But I am not about to ruin this strippy scarf! “Just knit it,” I was told. I will admit it is going a lot faster and I like it. I didn’t even measure the length when I took the picture. I was just too scared. It was just the initial shock of it all was too much, like how could I mess that up?! I was doing this project because it was simple.
Or so I thought.
I received a free poster of young adult author Neil Shusterman’s new book Challenger Deep! I’ve never received a free poster at an author reading before! The reading took place at Two Doors Down right next to Anderson’s Bookstore in Naperville, Illinois.
The atmosphere was jovial and festive. There were all kinds of kids there who were curious about Neil’s inspiration for their favorite books. Personally, I felt like a big kid myself, matching their enthusiasm. The book came after a long wait.
According to Neil, it had been planned for a number of years with his publisher, Simon and Schuster. The title, Challenger Deep, refers to one of his son’s elementary school science projects, but he wasn’t certain about the plot. With time, however, the story emerged. Neil revealed that the main character was inspired by his son’s struggle with schizophrenia. After the author received the news about his son’s diagnosis, he told the audience about the feelings of devastation felt by the family.
The book was timely in the current anti stigma campaign concerning mental illness. Those who are struggling may not feel comfortable in reaching out for help. He also hoped by writing the book that the people reading it who struggled with mental illness knew that they were not alone, the families that had a mentally ill relative would feel comfort and for those who have never had a mental illness would know what it was like to experience a psychotic break in reality.
As a former psychiatric nurse, I couldn’t agree with Neil more. As Neil read passages from his book, I was inspired by his ability to taking this experience and make something beautiful and positive. There were other freebies, which delighted me to no end! Neil’s son drew pictures that he gave away in a raffle for the audience. At the end of the night, I couldn’t wait to take the book home and read it curled up in a chair with a hot cup of tea!