Archives For new year’s resolutions

MM Arts 1-3-18

Art’s Cleaners by k. ervick

It’s a new year! Which means a new phrase-of-the-year. Becomes I’m not very resolved when it comes to resolutions, I come up with one word or phrase designed to inspire me, challenge me, and even nudge me in a new direction. I call it my non-resolution, and I actually devote a LOT of time to choosing it. Last year’s word was Order — which was amazing! I dedicated the year to getting my health, home, and finances in order. I dove into the Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, gave away or threw away what seems like half of my belongings, emptied out and sold my 1929 house and moved into a new apartment with a river view.

So the non-resolution phrase-of-the-year for 2018 is . . . 50 Pounds of Art.

The phrase is adapted from a popular anecdote in the book Art and Fear that suggests that focusing on quantity in any pursuit is a way to experiment and learn and will thus lead to quality. Would you rather be asked to make one PERFECT something . . . or 50 POUNDS of it? My idea is to make 50 pounds of art (metaphorically) by making a painting or drawing (literally) every day of the year:

The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality. His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the “quantity” group: fifty pounds of pots rated an “A”, forty pounds a “B”, and so on. Those being graded on “quality”, however, needed to produce only one pot — albeit a perfect one — to get an “A”. Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work – and learning from their mistakes — the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.

— from Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland

This first week of the year I have made a painting each day, and I already feel transformed in the way I think about making art and in my connection to others who I’ve been interacting with about this project. And I’ve already learned so much about my materials and paper and process. I’m learning what I’m drawn to, what I’m good at, what I need to practice, what I can do on this paper or with this type of brush or paint that I can’t do with that one.

That said, I had no clue where to begin when I started on New Year’s Day. I vaguely knew that I wanted to draw/paint something each day but was still trying to come up with a phrase for the year. Then I drew the thing that was in front of me: my Dial Complete hand soap. And so it began.

I posted the image on Facebook and got nice feedback and support, and since I had no plan for what to do next, I made some paintings inspired by my friends’ Facebook photos:

Against my better judgment, I even joined Instagram so I can post there.

I don’t know how it will evolve, so I’m thinking that each week will be a different series. A friend of mine sent me a link to a Library of Congress exhibit on Women Illustrators and Cartoonists, so that might be the focus one week. I’m taking a couple of online art classes those will probably each get a week. Last year I got a new Gelli plate for easy monoprints that I’ve never used, so maybe I’ll spend a week with that.

I’m obviously very suggestible (so please share ideas), and I’d also love some company. Anyone else in for making 50 Pounds of Art this year?





Photo Jan 01, 10 53 43 PM

I’m excited to start a new year of drawing or painting or collaging something each day. Last year my theme was ORDER, and man did I get things in order: home, possessions, finances, schedule. I literally experienced the life-changing magic of tidying up. The guiding principle of last year’s non-resolution was from Flaubert: “Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.” I’m off to a humble start, but I’m ready to see where daily art practice takes me in 2018.

“Be regular and orderly in your life,
so that you may be violent and original in your work.”

-Gustave Flaubert

It’s Friday the 13th! This year is almost two weeks old, and I am at last prepared to announce my New Year’s Non-Resolution. Instead of resolutions–which I resolve to do one day but forget to do the next–I come up with an idea, theme, or guiding principle. A word or phrase that sets the tone for the year. I’ve blamed everything in the last two months on the fact that I came down with Mononucleosis immediately after my last post in November about my book launch, and I am tempted to blame it on this untimely announcement. But the fact is, I tried out several ideas for 2017 and none of them felt right.

Until now!

Since I have already waited almost two weeks, I’ll just out with it. My theme for 2017 is Order.

Order is not a very sexy theme; perhaps it’s the least sexy theme ever. But look at the quote by Flaubert at the top of this post. Order may not be sexy, but making violent and original work/art/writing is.

Backstory: A week ago, I thought my theme would be “meander.” I was feeling stressed by my constant desire to getthingsdone compounded by my procrastination, so I liked the idea of letting myself meander about, slow down the pace. I even painted a river with lots of meanders (from a photo of one in California).


But it didn’t settle right. Then I hit on “Wabi Sabi,” a phrase I think I could say multiple times a day and feel delighted, and which means, basically, “nothing is permanent, nothing is finished, nothing is perfect.” I love this so much, and I tried it out this week, but the problem with both Wabi Sabi and meander is that they both already speak to my aesthetic, so I felt they weren’t really pushing me in a new direction.

I needed a word that I don’t already sort of do. 2016 my phrase was “Own It” because I had a book coming out, and I have a tendency to apologize for things. (“I’m so sorry I wrote a weird book.”)

I’m a pretty productive and reliable person. I get a lot done in writing and teaching. But it ain’t pretty; in fact it can be pretty chaotic. And it often takes its toll on me in terms of stress. What I need is ORDER.

Each day of 2017 I want to take small steps each day toward ORDER in my life. And I want to be WILD in my art.

(What are your resolutions and non-resolutions, dear reader?)


Book Launch Party!

November 16, 2016 — Leave a comment

for The Bitter Life of Božena Němcová! There will be Czech beer, snacks provided by Evil Czech Brewery, and trippy video footage of Prague. Thursday, 11/17/16 at 7pm at Langlab in South Bend, Indiana.


“Parker Ervick has transported me to Prague and shown the blending of fairy tales, history, and cultures laying the groundwork for Kafka’s surrealism (and exported far away, magic realism). With a touch of her magic, Parker Ervick plays with the shrouds of mystery surrounding Božena’s life and origins.”

– Josip Novakovich
author of April Fool’s Day, finalist Man Booker International 2013

Silence of the Blog

February 17, 2014 — 14 Comments

This week’s DP Challenge/Writing Prompt at WordPress is to write about SILENCE. One thing they suggest is “breaking the silence,” which I would like to do right now. My blog has been silent since November. I haven’t even posted any author interviews in my How to Become a Writer Series. So, imma try to get back in the swing. Starting with a new super-awesome interview that will post tomorrow. And who knows what I’ll post after that? Maybe I’ll write about all the places I’ve been traveling to give readings for my book (Chicago! Iowa City! Pittsburgh! DC! Baltimore! Milwaukee! Lubbock! [that’s TX, y’all]). Maybe I’ll write about my New Year’s non-resolution-phrase-of-the-year, which I’ve been meaning to write about since, you know, Jan 1. Or about all the books I’ve almost read.

Until then, I leave you with a strangely silent sight. Fallingwater – the setting of my new book Liliane’s Balcony – frozen. So much of the experience of Fallingwater is the constant sound of the water. And this polar vortex – or whatever the hell it is that is happening this winter – has also managed to silence the waterfall of Fallingwater.


Thanks to my facebook friend Missy for the link, and to Fallingwater’s FB page for the image.

Every year I have a theme. No resolutions, which I’d just break by tomorrow and hate myself for the next day. Just a guiding principle, a phrase to think of when faced with laziness, lack of focus, or a looming decision (or, more likely, indecision).

Last year it was Live Lovely because I really needed a fresh way of thinking of life after turning in my tenure dossier. The year before was Put Yourself Out There because I needed to be brave when my first book was published.

Sometimes I have subthemes for certain parts of the year. Like during my sabbatical this fall it was Finish the Fucking Novel. Which I basically did.

This year the theme is Dig Deep because that’s what I need to do. In my writing and thinking and reading and blogging, even my cooking with my daughter. We’re armed with lots of new kitchen tools and cookbooks. I’ve got essay ideas brewing and notes for blog posts. I’ve started reading Les Miserables, and I’ve finished 87 of 1463 pages.

And in Digging Deep, I hope to do what Neil Gaiman wished for us all this past year:

Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever.

Happy New Year to all my blog readers, and here’s to all of the glorious and amazing mistakes we’ll make this year!

The Ides of March, Beware! (Better yet, Be Idle!)

Two years ago today, on the Ides of March, I started this blog.

Since I occasionally wrote interesting things back then but had almost no readers, many of my posts are buried in the sands of blog time. I thought I would look back at what I wrote and – to pile on the unrelated metaphors – do a bit of a highlights reel of old footage.

Last year’s anniversary post: On the importance of Idle Time
The Idle Ides of March (celebrating 1 blogging year) 
– Here I reflect on the importance of idle time; in fact I blame the idle time of spring break for leading me to start the blog in the first place. I quote liberally from Brenda Ueland’s lovely, quaint, inspiring book, If You Want to Write.

Interview Series with Writers

This past year I also started my author interview series, How to Become a Writer, and my interview with the poet Carrie Oeding got Freshly Pressed!

This connected me to lots of new readers, and several of my recent interviews (and another coming soon) have come directly from reader recommendations: Cila Warncke, Andrew Porter (thanks to Denise at San Antonio Tourist), and Donna Miscolta (thanks to Gemma at gemmaDalexander’s Crooked Road!). Donna Miscolta then recommended an upcoming interview with Anne Germanacos. Thanks to all!

Thoughts about academia in general and the Ph.D. in Creative Writing in particular

What is a Ph.D. in Creative Writing?

To Ph.D. or not to Ph.D.

Why Intellectuals Need to Go Public

Why and how to become a writer

How to Become a Writer: Questionnaire – Ten questions for you to answer about yourself, your goals as a writer, your vision.

How to Become a Writer

Why Submit Work to Literary Magazines (only to get rejected over and over?)

How to Be a Writer: Discover a New Writer, pt. 1

How to Be a Writer: Writer a Fan Letter

How to Be a Writer: Copy a Passage