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The Reluctant Adventurer: SHARE

Friday, October 17, 2014


Want to feel young again? Do something you suck at. Young people suck at everything. (No offense to any four year-olds reading this.)

This week I went to SHARE, which is one of my favorite things in the world. SHARE was created by two of my favorite writers—Kathleen Lane and Margaret Malone.

Since 2009, this bi-monthly event has brought together artists from different disciplines to create and share work. Writers, actors, musicians, chefs, sculptors, painters…they invite about 12 artists to come to one space, be given the same prompt and create for two hours in their chosen discipline based on that prompt. Then, the terrifying part: at the end of the two hours, they have to share what they’ve made with all the other artists in attendance. [Insert high-pitched Psycho violins.]

It turns out, knowing that I’m going to have to share my work turns me into the most prolific, efficient, non-going-down-YouTube-rabbit-holes writer in history. It also significantly improves my first draft because I have to actually, y’know, think about the words I’m vomiting out onto the page. (Many writers use typewriters for this purpose to great effect. Ever try to make edits on a typewritten page? If that doesn’t make you consider your words carefully, nothing will.)

So why would I be reluctant about going to SHARE? Because this one was different. Kathleen and Margaret had three artists from different disciplines teach workshops, and afterward, everyone would create in one of those disciplines and we would have to share it.  


Double blerg.

So I Reluctantly Drew 

As a writer, I know that everything I put out into the world isn’t perfect. Not even close. But I’ve had enough time to hone my skills to know that most of what I produce probably doesn’t suck. And though I just took a class in sucking last week, I generally work very hard to avoid doing things that I suck at, and definitely avoid showing my sucky things to other people. 

So when Matt Sipes started his sculpture workshop by handing out pieces of construction paper for us to draw on, my stomach turned. And not just in the regular, “Is that a cop behind me?” way, more like the “Margaritas + Late-night-Taco-Bell + vague-memories-of-loudly-asking-the-cab-driver-if-he-knew-the-name-of-the-dude-you-were-with” kinda way. 

Matt gave us the prompt, “Bully” and asked us to draw.

And that’s where I was five again. That’s where I had that feeling I haven’t had since then of doing something I knew I was truly awful at, but I had to do it because a teacher was telling me to do it. 

Just the act of putting pen to construction paper reminded me of elementary school, where it was my older brother who was the artist, so I moved toward the things I did well and away from the things I enjoyed but felt less confident about. Like most people, this became a very popular trend in my life.

Matt gave us the prompt “Bully.” 

I drew a doughnut. 

I’ve been lucky. I’ve only been bullied by maybe three kids in my life, and that wasn’t fun at all. But by far, food’s been my biggest bully since adolescence. I haven’t had a day since I was 12 that I haven’t obsessed over what I would or wouldn’t eat. 

So that doughnut? That terrible, two-dimensional doughnut I drew with the weirdly-shaped sprinkles? That doughnut can suck it. 

But the fear of sucking is also a bully that keeps artists from sending their work out into the world, so here’s my doughnut [on the left], for all the Internet to see. 

You’re welcome.

As a sculptor, Matt works in copper, so after we’d drawn our bully and shown it to the rest of the class (triple blerg), he wanted us to take our interpretation and somehow create it in copper wire.

Then I Became A Sculptor

Because metaphor was never my strong suit, I began twisting my wire into a distinct doughnut shape. 

As a person who never works with her hands and can’t get out of her head, it was incredibly satisfying to take a thick piece of copper wire and bend it to my will. There’s a lot in this world that I can’t control, but this effing wire was gonna be totally doughnut-y by the time I got finished with it. 

I wanted there to be sprinkles, so I took tiny pieces of copper and wrapped them around the wire. But they wouldn’t stay in place. Even so, it gave me an idea: BARBED WIRE DOUGHNUT.

While a barbed wire doughnut appears to be more of a bully than a regular doughnut, making it out of barbed wire essentially robs it of its Great Doughnut Power because who the hell is gonna eat a barbed-wire doughnut? 

I came for a workshop and ended up creating The Ultimate Doughnut Solution. 

My doughnut isn’t a great piece of art by any stretch of the imagination, but creating it was so satisfying that I have to spread the word:

Go. Do something you’re terrible at. Do it multiple times. Revel in the awfulness. Roll around in it. It’s freeing.

Then, take your little piece of suck and show it to everyone you know. Post it on the Internet, for god’s sake. It’s not like the Internet saves anything forever and ever, right? Plus, if you have a drawing and you’re worried to share it, you can say to yourself, “Y’know what? No matter how bad this is, it’ll never be as appalling as that “Flintstone-wheel-wearing-Fred’s-suit”-looking thing from that column.” 

Take away the bullying power of the blank piece of paper, or the ball of clay and the blank canvas by showing the world The Worst Thing You’ve Ever Done. Because after you do that and you realize that it’s virtually impossible to die of mortification, everything else is gravy.



RECOMMENDED FOR: “Creative types,” people who like being a little scared, people who are uncomfortable in their comfort zone.

NOT RECOMMENDED FOR: Those averse to construction paper, eye-rollers and scaredy cats.

Courtenay Hameister is the Head Writer and Co-Producer of Live Wire Radio, a syndicated radio variety show distributed by Public Radio International. She is currently working on a book that will be released through Audible.com in 2015. Follow Courtenay on Twitter at @wisenheimer


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