Martina Green McGowan
Crafting Beyond the Half-Century Mark
Time and Age
Time and age come with a certain sense of freedom. Freedom of thought, more risk-taking, a different perspective gained from a long view of life, its attendant difficulties, and blessings. They grant most of us with a new level of grace, mercy, and forgiveness for ourselves and for others. There is a sense of urgency to getting our work done. But this is a far cry from the panic sensation we may have felt in our youth.
We sometimes become overwhelmed or even despondent that we have “wasted” years and come to this newest gift of art or craft too late in life. Having lived a lot longer than I thought I would when I was a teenager, spanning more than one career, I am brought back to a lesson I heard many years ago, but only recently absorbed. If a gift is present, there is no delay.
Gifts, destinies, blessings, whatever we wish to name these newfound talents and skills, can only arrive on time. Not too early, and not too late.
These talents, nor the results we seek cannot be forced or rushed. The right tools, circumstances, teachers, supporters will arrive on time.
What do we do while we wait?
In the meantime, what should we do? Grow your craft. Hone your skills. Keep growing and keep showing up.
As a mother and grandmother
I believe that who and what we make of our lives is some of the most important work we do. Yes, we do some of it for ourselves, but more importantly it is for others- our children, grandchildren, even for people we may never meet, who we influence. We give them legs to stand on, ideas and ideals to build upon.
Advice to a Crafter
I am a writer and an artist. Here is a bit more advice you can take, leave, use as you wish.
- You will receive conflicting advice: write what you know, write what you don’t know. Write what you feel
- Do not write only what you know. Go deeper, further, higher
- We tend to reside in one of two camps in life. We consider our lives either boring or brilliant, rich with material for our art. You decide.
- You are not writing or painting only for yourself. You want to share or send your reader on a journey. What pain or joy can you bring to the surface that makes them nod along, and speak?
- “Yeah, me too.”
- “I am not alone. I am not the only one feeling this way.”
- “I never thought of it that way.” Or “I never thought of that at all!”
- Or feel compelled to drop you a note to say how right/wrong you are
- Or compel them craft something themselves
- Celebrate successes and triumphs, even tiny ones.
- Examine, but do not dwell upon errors and missteps. Learn from them. Ask yourself, “What can I do differently the next time?”
- There will be days you do not craft or think poorly of your craft. It’s okay. No one is perfect or hits a home run every time.
- Be gentle with yourself
- Get trusted eyes and hearts to review the work, probably not your closest family members.
- Join a group of peers. Somewhere everyone can teach, learn, and grow together. We often learn a great deal by preparing to “teach” others.
- Also join a group of next-level craftspeople.
- The adage that says if you are the smartest person in the group, then you need a better group, is true to an extent. You need a group that not only serves your ego, but keeps you humble, but never humiliated.
- Be gentle with others. Give honest feedback, just as your own work deserves.
Whether we feel the time before us is long or short, keep writing, keep painting, keep crafting, keep doing. All we have is truth; a truth someone else needs to hear or feel.
Martina Green McGowan, MD
Martina McGowan, MD, physician, poet, writer, artist, advocate, activist in the wars against social, racial, and sexual injustices. Author of i am the rage, February 2021, SourceBooks. Award-winner in the Social Change category of the 2021 International Book Awards. Poetry Editor for The Elevation Review Magazine. Her work has been published in several literary magazines and anthologies.