Sunday, December 30, 2007
Successful people believe that they have the internal capacity to make desirable things happen.
This is perhaps the most central belief shown to drive individual success. People who believe they can succeed see opportunities where others see threats. This comfort with ambiguity leads people to take greater risks and achieve greater returns.
Successful people tend to not feel like victims of fate. They believe that they have the motivation and ability to change their world. They see success for themselves and others as largely a function of motivation and ability, not luck, random chance or external factors.
Okay, folks. Here it is. My last friendly butt-kicking of 2007, for artists, writers, moms, and anybody else who reads this blog. I don't pretend to be the most successful person in the world, but I can say that I'm happy with where I'm at as a brand-new 26-year-old. I'm better off this December than I was last December. If I've made the same leap by next year, I'll be happy next year too.
I'm a big believer in goals, so for me, setting New Year's Resolutions seems pretty obvious. I tend to write down my resolutions right before the New Year and then modify them throughout the year as I meet them. And I do tend to meet them. Want to hear some of mine from last year's resolutions?
1. make my living entirely from art again this year (despite a ghastly October that had me eating way too much spaghetti with no sauce, I did this) (and I had a set money figure that I wanted to meet for myself to count as "making my living", which I'm not going to share here, so don't ask, you nosy buggers)
2. get a contract for one of my novels (regular blog readers will know that LAMENT is coming out in Fall '08)
3. get into American Academy of Equine Art's exhibition (didn't do this but got into the Colored Pencil Society of America's International Exhibition instead).
4. teach more workshops (the Detroit branch of the CPSA flew me out there to teach a three day workshop in March, which was very fun & I've been asked to do a series of 5 workshops in Northern Virginia in '08)
For me, there's no need to convince me about the value of New Year's Resolutions. Setting goals works, because it makes me accountable. How can I be successful if I don't know what I'm supposed to be trying to do? With that in mind, I've dug up some useful goals links for the wafflers amongst you to read before setting your goals. Setting bad goals is worse than none at all, so make sure you're doing it right.
Make Your Goals Specific
The Mindset of Successful People (scroll down to get to the good part)
Hokey Article about Visualizing Goals
The most important thing is to make your goals specific. "Make Money with my Art" is a crummy goal. "Make xx,xxx" with my art is a better goal, because you'll know when you've achieved it. And if you only make x,xxx amount with your art, you know how far you still have to go, and you'll stretch to reach it.
The next thing is to make your goals something that you can mostly do under your own steam. Don't put "Achieve world peace" (which is another sucky non-specific goal by the way) unless you think you can do most of that on your own.
And the next important thing is to not make your goals too easy. Sure, you can throw in some gimmies. But throw in some stretches there. You risk not making them, but you also include that chance that you might. And if you don't put them in there, I can guarantee that you won't make them.
And finally, show them to everyone. Remember that accountability thing? The more people that see them, the more real those goals are. You have a reason to achieve them, to prove yourself to others as well as to yourself.
With that said, here are my top ten goals for 2008.
1. Make 75% of my income from my art. (I have an actual dollar amount that only my family knows).
2. Make 25% of my income from my writing.
3. Shift my art income to 75% prints, products with my art on it, and workshops and the rest from originals.
4. Get a contract for at least one other novel and the sequel to LAMENT.
5. Learn to play my two favorite O'Carolan pieces on my harp (this is my gimmie, but I wouldn't make time for it unless I put it on the list).
6. Visit New York City with my husband (and maybe my toddlers).
7. Inspire at least one other person to go full-time with their art.
8. Comfortably run a mile by the end of the year (this is another gimmie, but like the other one, I wouldn't feel like I had to do it unless it's on this list).
9. Get into the studio to record a lament for LAMENT & build website for book with the tune as a download.
10. Land a good literary agent.
(11). Get my dog Ginger to stop smelling like fish.
Looking at that, I'm sure I'm missing some things, but I'm going to jot them down as I think of them. And you know what I'm doing right at this moment? I'm taking that list, using a beautifully fat and smelly Sharpie to write them on a piece of cardstock and taping it next to my desk where I can see them every day. And I can't wait to start crossing them off.
Let's see your goals, folks. Post a comment here if you've put your goals up on your blog, or if you're afraid to do it that publicly, feel free to email them to me (portraitswithcharacter AT gmail.com) if you want me to help you feel accountable.
Happy New Year! It's going to be a good one.
Saturday, December 29, 2007
Copyright 2007 Maggie Stiefvater
email me at portraits with character AT gmail.com for portrait info
and check out my cafepress store for Jack Russell swag.
I am planning to do an epic post tomorrow on New Year's resolutions and goals, because it's a subject I feel very strongly about, but at the moment I am completely obsessed with wanting to know if men hear better than women, because I noticed today that my husband's ear-holes are larger than mine. So he should hear better, right? Am I right?
Anyway, I'll be back to long and proper posts after the New Year's. Right now I'm rather enjoying my holiday sloth.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
So, c'mon, do it. Everyone likes talking about themselves.
3. When do you put up the tree? When I need something to put in the corner to hide the weird stain in the corner before holiday relatives start arriving.
6. Favorite gift received as a child? I would like to be able to say "the love and companionship of my extended family" but I'm afraid I'm going to have to go with the giant Lego castle I got when I was nine or ten. It allowed me to play out my fantasies of world domination and practice bad English and Scottish accents, all within a three feet by three foot area.
7. Do you have a Nativity scene? Yes. Two actually, both of them gifts. One of them is sort of homely but features all the traditional cast of characters, and the other is quite arty and beautiful, but there are no wise men or animals and Jesus doesn't seem to have a face. This bothers me. I know that scholars disagree with what Jesus looked like and what race he was, but I'm pretty sure he had a face.
8. Hardest person to buy for? People who can and do buy whatever they want for themselves during the rest of the year. Then I have to be sneaky and buy them something they always wanted but never thought of buying for themselves, like a hedgehog.
10. Mail or email Christmas cards? This is sort of like people who have llamas. Even though some llamas come in pretty colors, I don't have llamas because I don't have the space or the time. But just because I don't keep llamas doesn't mean I have a problem with other people who do have llamas.
11.Worst Christmas gift you ever received? This question is made impossible to answer by my answer to number 9. I did get a pair of pants once that was not at all befitting a future monarch of America. Maybe those count.
12. Favorite Christmas Movie? Definitely The Snowman. The soundtrack is amazing and I just can't get over how the choirboys roll their Rs.
13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? I make a point of having most of my shopping done before Thanksgiving, so I can shake my head and tsk disapprovingly about the crass nature of Black Friday.
14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Yes. Though my lips are tightly sealed as to which gift it might have been. Although the Future Queen of America (that would be me) is easy to shop for, occasionally we (that would be me) receive gifts that have already been given to ourselves (that would be me). Then we magnanimously pass these on to others who can properly use them.
15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Food, mainly. Christmas is that time of year when I take a break from consuming cookie dough and sweet tea and instead gorge myself on turkey and rib roast. I can tell I'm done when my belly button pops out.
16. Clear lights or colored on the tree? I am a die-hard clear lights fan and my husband is a colored lights fan. Each year, before we take out the tree to cover up the stain in the corner, he and I arm-wrestle for the right to choose which will hang on the tree that Christmas. Though my husband has incredible biceps and I weigh 105 pounds, this year I won because I shouted "Look out the window! The cat is peeing on your cop car!" right as he was about to win. So, clear lights this year.
18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? I would always travel at Christmas time if my relatives would move to San Diego.
19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeers? Duh, yeah, and a lot better than Santa did. None of this Vixen, Comet crap . . . I would name them after powerful figures in world history. You know, Churchill, Washington, Peter the Great, Brad Pitt, etc.
20. Angel on the tree top or a star? I would like to have an angel on top of the tree, but I refuse to put anything up there with an assymetrically painted face. I'm not going to spend the month of December with some furry-eyebrowed angel leering down at me.
21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Okay. Someone explain this to me. We spend our entire lives convincing small children that Santa packs his sled on Christmas Eve and flies all around the world to deliver them on Christmas, and then some people open their gifts on Christmas Eve? Are we trying to make the children doubt us? Are we?
22. Most annoying thing about this time of year? Hands down, jewelry commercials. If I see one more pretty boy deposit one more giant rock on a smiling woman's hand, neck, fact, foot . . . okay, well, nothing will happen, but it still irritates me.
23. Favorite ornament theme or color? To tell you the truth, I'm afraid to answer this. If I put something like "snowman" here, I can guarantee that next year I will be mobbed by snowman-themed gifts from members of my future retinue. Snowman ornaments. Snowman snow-globes. Snowman statues. Snowman plates. Snowman panties. Snowman toilet paper. Snowmen that sing "I watch you while you're sleeping/ I know if you've been bad or good" softly on my nightstand as I try to sleep. So no. No, I won't answer this!
24. Do you have a stocking? Two. They keep my feet warm.
25 Favorite for Christmas dinner? Something that went "moo" or "gobble" in a previous life.
26. What do you want for Christmas this year? Hundreds of blog subscribers. Wait, already got that. Sweet tea and cookie dough? Hey, I told you I was easy to shop for.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
In the event that Marilyn is unable to accept the sketchbook, I will do another drawing on Christmas. Thanks everyone for reading!
Monday, December 17, 2007
Oooh, ooh, I almost forgot. I have officially gotten to the last page in my little quick sketch book. It's a cute little 6 x 6" sketchbook with handmade paper in it and all of my quick 2 minute value sketches for the past few months in it. They're not beautiful, but they're intensely useful to me -- sort of my shorthand to get the values right on a painting.
Anyway, I promised a long time ago that when it was done, I would randomly draw the name of a subscriber and give it to one of them. Well, it's done. And I'm going to draw a random subscriber (you can subscribe to my blog up at the right corner I think) on Wednesday, December 19th, at 8:00 p.m. EST. So if you're not signed up yet and you want it, sign up. I'll mail it out on the 20th so there's actually a chance that the lucky duck might get it for Christmas.
Copyright 2007 Maggie Stiefvater/ private portrait commission.
email me at portraitswithcharacter AT gmail.com for portrait info.
For our anniversary, this weekend the hubby and I went to dinner and to see I Am Legend. You might know the premise . . . Will Smith plays the last guy on earth after a virus wipes out mankind and turns virtually all of the survivors into weird creatures that live in NYC (I know, you're wondering how this is any different from present day). Well, the trailers didn't go too much into the weird creatures bit, so I was hoping for a deeply sensitive and thought-provoking movie about being the last person on earth.
Okay, I know. Will Smith. Anyway. Turns out the weird, mutated humans only came out at night, were crazy-aggressive, and craved red meat. Basically, college students.
I was intensely disappointed. Somehow I had managed to see two zombie movies in one month (last one: Shaun of the Dead) without intending to. Not that I have anything against zombies, I mean, if I had a problem with people who wandered aimlessly and were fiercely unfriendly, I'd never go into a Wal-mart.
Still, I wonder why the undead always follow this same tragic pattern of die-wander-feed off the living-avoid daylight, or as I like to call it "the Britney Spears syndrome." Maybe it's peer pressure.
Maggie: What's with this chewing on mankind and wandering about groaning thing?
Zombie: All the other zombies do it, they'll laugh at me or try and eat me if I buck the system.
Maggie: Don't you mean "arrrrgggghhhhooohhhhh?"
Zombie: Oh, yeah. I mean, arrrrrgggghhhooohhhhh.
Hey, cool, a moral. Did you see it? Don't be a trend-following zombie in this life and you won't be a zombie in the next, after Will Smith introduces a virus that on the one hand cures your craving for Papa John's pizza but on the other replaces it with a craving for your husband. Or at least his left leg.
Friday, December 14, 2007
What do you like out of sequels?
-Do you want to see the same narrator? Or do you prefer the story continued with a side character coming to the front?
-Sequels that can stand by themselves? Or stories that obviously continue from loose ends from the first?
-Pet peeves about sequels?
- Best sequel you've ever read?
Thanks, all, for the help!
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Copyright 2007 Maggie Stiefvater.
Private commission; e-mail me at portraitswithcharacter AT gmail.com for commission info.
I've been told that eggshells are actually quite nutritious.
I'd known this for awhile, but I was reminded of that fact when I started feeding my Jack Russell, Peanut, a raw food diet. For those of you that aren't familiar with this, it's a diet meant to closely mimic a wild dog's natural diet of small animals such as squirrels and birds except for a domesticated simpering dog incapable of catching squirrels and birds. And it works wonders on Peanut's little farting hobby.
Anyway, I digress. What I was working up to was that one of the recommended foods is whole eggs, including the shell, because it has Vitamin Crunch in it or something. Of course, Peanut just stares at me like I'm an idiot when I present her with a whole egg.
ME: Here's an egg, filled with nutritional benefits to make your coat shiny and strong.
PEANUT: What's with the rock?
ME: Here. Be wild. Crack that shell with your mighty crushing teeth.
PEANUT: I think I just farted.
The delicate Peanut must have her egg cracked in a bowl and brought to room temperature before she will consider making it a part of her daily schedule. She's pickier than my kids.
Anyway, speaking of eggs, this week I've cracked an important milestone, if you'll excuse the pun. (Don't get the pun? Wait for it . . . ) I've always been envious of those TV chefs who can crack an egg with one hand. You know, they're cooking along, they need an egg, they point at the camera and say "Bam" with one hand and crack an egg on the edge of a bowl with the other. The yolk slides deftly into the bowl, the shell remains in their hand, and the television audience goes wild.
I wanted that to be part of my legacy.
So over the past few months, I've been practicing. I make a lot of cookie dough, which happens to use one egg per batch, and a lot of blondie brownies, which take two per batch, and giving Peanut some whole eggs, which must be cracked for her, so I get a lot of practice. I've finally figured out that you use the same wrist motion that you would use for knocking on a door, or like you were doggy paddling across the English Channel. Works perfectly.
Of course, not at first.
But this week, hundreds of eggs later, I got it. Swish, click, slop, trash. And as for those hundreds of eggs and their shells that were mostly but not quite picked out of the batter? Well, as I pointed out earlier, egg shells are good for you.
Sunday, December 09, 2007
And of course there's Santa. Not only have we been receiving regular phone calls from Santa, who has a voice a lot like my husband, but we also were looking forward to the infamous Santa pics. I say infamous, because last year, our forty-five minute wait to see Mall-Santa ended in wails and cries rivaling those of the damned.
No way was I doing that again. Well, the waiting in line bit, anyway. All of my children's grandparents (they have five through a lucky twist of fate, resulting in more presents for them) would throw me out with the used wrapping paper if I gave up attempting Santa pics. But I was at least being sensible this time. Santa was coming to our local bank and I reasoned that in our retirement community, there were probably only other four other children under the age of twenty two. So the wait should be quite short.
Turns out, I was right. While the bank was a happenin' place, the line was only about four kids long (with assembled parents, grandparents, and butlers in tow). Victoria was initially quite excited about the concept of telling Santa what she wanted for Christmas (she's getting one of these, by the way, because we love her too much to have any brains or self-control left). But as the children in front of her each took their turns sitting obediently on Santa's lap, her chatter became more and more subdued.
Finally we were the last people in line, and Santa was smiling at the camera with the last victim. Victoria was running silent as a submarine in hiding. I observed, with a bit of irritation, that this Santa was not as cute as Mall-Santa. This Santa had a bit less Holiday Charm and slightly more Randy Old Man.
Victoria seemed to agree, because when we approached Santa, she used her super-power (vice grip strength) on my neck.
SANTA: Would you like to sit on my lap?
VICTORIA: wordless shaking of head, eyes wide in horror
SANTA: Would your mama like to sit on my lap?
MAMA (me): withering look
Anyway, Victoria refused to sit on Santa's lap or tell him what she wanted for Christmas, possibly because her mother was now glaring at him, trying to recognize who it was underneath the fake beard, so she could kick his butt later.
So onto Will. Will, a year younger, was initially fine with approaching Randy Old Santa. That all changed when my husband indicated that he might hand Will to him. Heads turned all over the bank as he began to cry. Not just a little cry. This was a Randy-Old-Santa-Is-Going-To-Take-Me-Away-And-Use-Me-As-Elf-Labor cry. It could be heard in the North Pole, where the reindeers were on strike for online-sales royalties. Santa indicated that my husband could carry Will a few feet forward and Santa would sneak up from behind to get a picture with him in it. I thought this would look more ominous than festive, but I kept my mouth shut. Victoria did too.
So my husband carried Will a few feet forward. The crying ceased. Will looked relieved. Santa began to ease himself out of the chair. The velveteen brush of Santa-pants against bank chair, barely louder than a spider fart, made Will's head turn around and the R.O.S.G.T.M.A.E.M.E.L. cry come out of his mouth again.
My husband decided that discretion was the better part of valor, and we got out while we still had hearing in our right ears. We did get a very nice polaroid of Victoria burying her head in my chest while Randy Old Santa smiled at the camera like he had just asked a 26 year old to sit in his lap.
Friday, December 07, 2007
Copyright 2007 Maggie Stiefvater.
E-mail me at portraitswithcharacter AT gmail.com to purchase art-card sized portraits ($40 each).
I don't consider myself an unfriendly person, but neither am I snuggly, cuddly, approachable or hands-on.
Since I've gone full-time as an artist, two years ago, I have read multiple studies on how hand contact will sell more product, and how a warm hug will often cinch a deal that a handshake wouldn't. Intellectually, I take that all in and think fascinating. Practically, I imagine putting the concept to use and think Cooties.
I just . . . I just don't like this whole hugging of strangers thing. I don't like hugging of friends thing. I hug my dog. I hug my dad. I hug my husband. In three entirely different ways. But otherwise -- hm. I'd rather eat bell peppers, and that's saying a lot.
The problem is, there's no real way to broadcast the fact of my anti-hugness without appearing unfriendly. Well, perhaps there is, but I've lost the knowledge as I've aged. In college I was broadly labeled as "scary" by those who knew me and guys would tell me that they had friends who wanted to ask me out but were too scared too. They would hoot when someone tried to lay a hand on my shoulder or otherwise pop a personal bubble which I prided on being no less than ten feet. On either side of me.
But now I seem to have people hugging me all the time. They can't help it. They mean well. They want to show me how glad they are to see me. They don't realize they're setting off all kinds of personal alarms and making the hairs on the back of my neck stand up like Carrot Top's hair.
I wish I had porcupine spines. Then I wouldn't have to say anything, you know? I'd be automatically repellent. And it would also be great for branding purposes, wouldn't it?
BUYER 1: Where did you find that awesome painting?
BUYER 2: That booth down near the entrance.
BUYER 1: Which one?
BUYER 2: The artist with the spines all over her body.
BUYER 2: I know just who you're thinking of.
Also spines would be great for organizing my life -- I'd never lose another business card. Just stab that sucker onto one of the spines and I'm a walking Rolodex.
Guys, I gotta go. I need to revise my Christmas list. Need me some spines.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Okay, okay, non Jack Russell people will roll their eyes. But I'm just disgustingly pleased over my latest Jack Russell design for my Cafepress store. What can I say? I'm a total geek that way . . .
I saw the greatest shirt there, by the way. "National Sarcasm Association: Like we need your support."
Copyright 2007 Maggie Stiefvater.
Click here to find cool swag involving terriers at my cafepress store.
Children are evil. Not pure evil, just the diluted stuff. Yesterday, while I was taking Ginger out to do her business in the yard, I felt a disturbance in the force. Sure enough, by the time I'd climbed the stairs to the front door again, I found that my two year old son had turned the lock on the door. I peered in the window at him. He peered back at me. I smiled. He smiled. I asked him to open the door. He declined. My three year old daughter sat on the couch a few feet away and watched TV, completely disinterested in my plight.
It was cold. I was holding a wriggling puppy under my arm. I was stuck on the front step and every neighbor was at work.
I then proceeded to go through the five stages of locked-out grieving.
1. Denial. I wasn't really locked out. There was a window open somewhere. I probably had the ability to the pick the lock with my hair clip if I really put my mind to it. Why couldn't my admittedly criminal tendencies have run towards an aptitude for breaking and entering?
2. Anger. After about ten minutes in the cold, I was getting seriously pissed. I tapped on the glass and yelled,"Victoria, get off that couch! Come here and open the door!" She looked at me curiously, like I were one of those animals at the zoo that hadn't quite realized scratching at the glass got them nowhere. "I'm going to turn off the TV!" I threatened. She gave me a look that clearly said do you think I was born yesterday? You're locked out, you moron. TV's mine!
3. Bargaining. I instead turned my attentions to Will. He was still standing by the door, smiling at me. "Will, do you like ice cream? If you open the door, I'll give you ice cream." "Okay," said Will. He remained by the door, smiling up at me. Apparently, unlike Victoria, he was born yesterday, and really did think I was going to get him ice cream from my post on the opposite side of the door.
4. Depression. Twenty minutes in, I was freezing, had tried thumping on the neighbor's door, and was beginning to feel hungry. I wondered if I could possibly starve to death before my husband got home from his shift, seven hours later. I wondered if the children were going to draw on the walls and watch programs rated PG-13 for content that would make a two year old require therapy. Will had stopped smiling at me next to the door and had instead laid down in the middle of the floor with a car and was smiling at it.
5. Acceptance. I was never getting in the front door. I was locked out, and stages 1-4 were getting me nowhere. I went around to the back door, which is a French door with all the windows that entails, and I knocked.
Peanut begins to bark: there's someone at the door!!!!
Will comes running into the kitchen to see who it is. Ah ha! It's Mama again! Boy, she's obsessed with this coming-inside thing!
Through the window, I make intricate gestures indicated how he should unlock the knob. He smiles at me. Then, he begins to lock and unlock the door, back and forth, back and forth. With a careful sense of timing developed from a grade-school experience full of skipping rope, I grab the doorknob on the upswing and push my way inside.
Will got ice cream. Victoria got the TV unplugged.
Sunday, December 02, 2007
All readers who are over 40 and/or didn't think Depeche Mode counted as music can avert their eyes now. I have to confess that I am seriously in love with Blaqk Audio's Cexcells. It was the dark and thumpy single "Stiff Kittens" that pulled me in but now I'm being forced to listen to "Between Breaths" and "Wake Up, Open the Door, and Escape" on continuous loop since yesterday. What a pitiful existence I have. Breaking Benjamin needs to release a new album so I can stop listening to these guys.
So what was playing non-stop before them? My sister gave me Eisley's Combinations for my birthday, telling me that "it sounded like me." The first listen through made me think that she'd guessed wrong. It was nearly happy-sounding, which is not my usual brand. The sort of pure vocals and overall prettiness put me in mind of Sixpence None the Richer, another favorite of mine, and as I listened to it again, I started to catch the subtleties of the harmonies. This was definitely not just happy chick-music. I'm thinking that it's more a female-lead version of Coldplay. And the fact that the band members are all in their teens just makes it all the more remarkable (and should send Hanson running in shame). So, good guess, Kate, because I love this one, especially "Invasion" and "Combinations." Don't be fooled by their prettiness, as I was initially -- this one holds up to repeated listening.
Another addiction of the past few weeks was Placebo's Meds. I will shamefully report that I hunted this one down after hearing their cover of Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill" on CSI. I'm not sure how to classify their music, but it's on the more disturbing side of my CD case and I'll bet my mom wouldn't like it. Still, it scratches a particular itch that I get, when I need moody, edgy, and whiny. Music to sulk to. I couldn't stop listening to "Running Up That Hill" & "Pierrot the Clown" until I misplaced the CD last week. I have this sneaking suspicion that my husband has hidden it. When listening to this CD, you get the vague idea that none of the musicians involved has had anywhere near a healthy relationship in their life.
And for those who are still blinking in shock over Placebo, here's a bit more of a mainstream offering: The Starting Line's Direction. Happy music, people. Very happy. Check out their single "Island" and also "Something Left to Give". The rest of the album is very middle of the road, but it's a happy road, one completely free of small dead animals or potholes. Put this on in the background when you have friends over or when you're cleaning house. If you ever clean house. I don't think I do.