For the last three years, I wanted to illustrate a story my cat, Pooh Hodges, wrote about how to become a cat. But I wasn’t sure what a drawing of a guy wearing tighty whities would look like. I hesitated for three years. Because, well, I was worried someone might not like my illustrations.
“Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.”
― Andy Warhol
I kept waiting. Waiting for my turn. Waiting for someone to give me permission to create. Waiting for permission to be myself.
You don’t need permission to create
Then I read a book by Seth Godin. What To Do When It’s Your Turn [and it’s always your turn]
On page 77 in What To Do When It’s Your Turn, Seth asks, “When is the right time?” His answer is — “Now.”
It’s never the right time. When you are starting a family, it’s not the right time. When your kids are about to go to college, it’s not the right time. When there’s an elderly parent depending on you.. . — Seth Godin, What To Do When It’s Your Turn [and it’s always your turn]
It is your turn. Your turn to make art. Your turn to create. Your turn to give a gift. A gift of your art. We don’t need permission to create. We don’t need prior approval of our ideas.
We don’t need permission to go back to school as adults with gray hair. We don’t need permission to write a story while our babies are taking naps. We don’t need permission to create a new recipe while our children are learning how to walk.
We don’t have to wait.
[share-quote]You don’t need permission to be yourself. Be you, it’s time. [/share-quote]
If you didn’t learn what you wanted to learn at school when you were twenty— go back to school when you are thirty-two, forty, or fifty-six.
If you want to draw a guy in tighty-whites to illustrate a book your cat wrote, then get out your markers and draw.
Last fall I took a class at Montgomery County Community College in page layout and design. I wanted to learn how to made books using Adobe InDesign.
No one gave me permission to take the class. I took the class and learned a new skill. A skill I can use now to make books.
You don’t need permission to be yourselves.
[share-quote] There are no gatekeepers to your dreams. Dream your life. Then make it. [/share-quote]
Pooh, a cat, was really a writer. He dictated and I typed. He had his own blog, thecatwhowrites.com. Harper is now the cat who writes. She came to live with us after Pooh died. If you want to understand your cat better, read Harper’s blog. She is a cat, she knows how a cat thinks. That is Pooh in the photograph leaning on my hand.
Pooh realized there were humans who were fed up with the stress and pressure of holding down a job, mowing the lawn, and entertaining people they didn’t like, so he clearly stated, in fifteen steps, how to become a cat. The blog post was entered in a “How To” contest on Problogger. Pooh was one of three winners. Here is the announcement on Problogger. How To Be A Cat. (Darren Rowse listed me as the writer, but it was really Pooh.)
The illustration for the cover of the book, How To Be A Cat, of a human dressed as a cat, is being made life-size. I made a copy of the drawing on a transparency and projected it onto a 4×8 sheet of plywood.
Today I cut out half of the drawing with a skill saw. I also took a chunk out of the table too. This week I will paint the wood white, and paint the black on the figure the same as the illustration.
How To Be A Cat, the book, will help you become a cat. And, maybe the book will help you see that it’s your turn. It’s always your turn.
What do you want to make? What will you do when it’s your turn?
Please let me know in the comments. I would love to hear from you.
p.s For those of you who don’t know, Pooh died on April 1st last year. The other cats and my family were devastated. Pooh was a dear friend. He always sat beside me when I wrote and put his paw on my hand while I typed.
p.s.s. The table. (I bought the table at a thrift store for $15.00. A table to paint and cut out cats on. Living imperfectly. Making a mess. )