Making Sense of Painting, Writing and Life: Jenna Quentin Guest Blog Post

This is what I love about the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators. It's an international organization so people like Jenna and I can be writer buddies. The amazing thing about the Internet (and SCBWI conferences world wide) is that it makes it easier to keep in touch. I did a guest blog post for Jenna a while back, and now she's doing one for me! 

Here's a little bit about her from her blog ... 

I'm a 24 year-old American from Kansas (don't bother getting the map - it's in the middle). I am married and living in my husband's homeland of France. I plan on eating as much cheese and wine as one petite girl can, while avoiding snails, goose liver and frogs. I'm a home birth, full-time mom to 17 month-old Luca.

Since 2007, I've been writing in magazines and for websites including: Brio, Focus on the Family Clubhouse, Relate Magazine, SUSIE, eHow and others. I'm a graduate of the Institute of Children's Literature and holds diplomas from Bordeaux University, France.  I'm currently working on two middle-grade novels and a picture book with no end in sight, but lots of optimism.

And here's her guest blog post about: Making Sense of Painting, Writing and Life!

Since I have lived in France for the last three years, I now look forward to the French holidays. The 14th of July was Bastille Day, the French Independence Day. France is not a country of unpatriotic people, but let me just say, we don't do anything to celebrate it. Maybe watch the parade with the President on the Champs Élysée, or go to the village-wide garage sale and fall asleep to fireworks banging, but that's all.

I spent about six hours of the holiday painting a second and third coat on our bedroom walls. The bucket of paint said it was "mono-couche" one-coat satin paint. Lest you think France is a country of either illiterates or meanies laughing in their sleeves at me needing a third bucket of "Gris Doré N°5," let me say I think they just don't know how to count, 'cause my hubby says I need a fourth coat for it to be a done well.

Which of course, started a heated conversation, mostly about his native negativity, perfectionism and inability to just "let it go." And maybe a bit about me being artistic (i.e. sloppy), optimistic, tired and very ready to do any touch ups ... later. Can I just say, don't spend your holidays like that. Shower the people you love with love, says James Taylor.

Even if you're tired and pregnant and he's stupid and you both just want to sleep in the room instead of on the couch and you both just want the project done and there's just been complications from the slick satin pink paint that was already on the walls to him thinking the grey taupe you picked is too dark and the paint sprayer you borrowed took a week to get and then there was something wrong 'cause the paint dripped all down the walls of the closet like melty coffee ice cream but you don't want to do it anymore and you just wanna be done!!! Please!!!

So, why am I telling you this? Because I'm scared your marriage/relationship will end over a lousy paint job?

Nathan Bransford was an agent and is now a writer/blogger (if you are a writer and don't know him, discover him and his blog). He recently wrote a post called Stories Are How We Make Sense of Life.  Here is an quote that I think goes with what I try to explore on my blog.

"Life is too complicated to hold in your head and relationships are too immense and multi-faceted to easily comprehend. So we write and tell stories to make sense of our relationships and existence. A novel can capture more than we can readily contemplate, and an author can, brick by brick, build a world that can illuminate and give meaning to some part of the full tapestry of our lives and relationships. They help us understand things that are too difficult to think about all at once." 

Is this why I wrote and published a teen magazine story on the death of my grandfather? Is this why my novel was absolute rubbish until I set the story in France, including my love/hate relationship with my adopted land? Is this why somehow, I feel compelled to tell you all that one more layer of paint on the bedroom walls is not worth your marriage, when all I am really doing is trying to understand my own?

Does writing explain life or does life explain why we write? I love Jan's blog, because she  also studies this question. How does life effect your writing? Do you write about your life? Write about other peoples' lives? Do you see the world as living literary inspiration?

If you want to chat more about these questions, you can find me on Facebook, on Twitter @JennaQuentin and on my blog, Meandering in a Field of Words. (This post was originally written on my blog 7/15/11)


Angie said…
Beautiful post. I love that quote. It's so true. Life is just messy sometimes. I think lots of my own writing stems from trying to make sense of life's messiness. Thanks so much, Jan and Jenna.
JennaQuentin said…
Thanks, Jan, for the opportunity! Thanks for reading, Angie!
The Wicked Lady said…
Great post, Jenna. I would gladly paint 4 or 5 coats just to be living in Paris, though. Oh for a café and pain au chocolat with the morning haze just lifting off Boul. St. Mich....
JennaQuentin said…
Thanks, Wicked Lady! I don't live in Paris, actually (she and I have a love/hate relationship ;) but I lived in Bordeaux, which is a smaller and equally beautiful (and more relaxed city). Now I'm in a little village in the foresty department of Dordogne - lots of mushrooms, chestnuts, truffles and wine! Pain au chocolat and other pastries are the real reason I live here though ;)