Valentine's Day, 1980, my older sister came home from school with a drawing for my mother. It was of a heart, a long heart, a bit pinched at the top and stretched out on the bottom, like a fought-over piece of taffy. My mother laughed. Not a nice laugh. And when I heard her, my heart hurt for my sister. Even before I saw my sister's face, I knew that my mother's laugh had done something to her. Sure enough, I never saw my sister draw again. She was 7.
A while back, an aunt of mine mailed some pictures to me at my mil's house. Because I was impatient to see them, I asked my mil to open the envelope and show them to me via SKype. Enclosed was a drawing I had done when I was 7.
When she saw it, my mil laughed. Not a nice laugh. "Ha! Look how big you made the giraffe! You sure don't know anything about proportions, do you!?" Knowing that my mil is not artistically inclined herself and being well over the age of 7 myself, I was able to dismiss her jibes, but part of me thought, How hurtful would that laughter have been to me as a child?
As it was, I was pretty chuffed at how well I had done without a reference photo, without Wikipedia around to let me know that giraffes don't eat apples. And I know from up close and personal experience just how big giraffes are, so the joke is on her, so to speak.
And then this, from a journal entry 23.04.2013:
I also want to do some rough sketches for Beanie and the fish book idea I have...I remember now that once upon a time, while I was at university, I thought about writing and illustrating children's books. A forgotten dream! Another thing I let people discourage me from with tales of "It's too hard/near impossible to break into." And instead of using their "helpful," well-intentioned discouragements to work harder, I took their comments as a veiled way of saying that I wasn't good enough and left it at that. I could have used them as fuel to practice and improve.
Instead, I gave up, thinking, "Well, my passion isn't deep enough. Guess that means it isn't my calling."
Well, to hell with well-intentioned discouragements and misplaced laughter. I'm trying my hand at it anyhow. To quote again from that journal entry: Don't fold. Resist. Keep trying. Get better.