Elizabeth: Big Ball of Paint

With National Novel Writing Month about to start (or having just started, depending on when you read this post), a recent “Why I NaNoWriMo” post caught my eye yesterday when perusing my news feed.

The author has, in his own words:

“. . . completed NaNoWriMo three times, and have started and failed more times than I’d like to remember.”

I always like hearing about folks who have made it through NaNoWriMo and emerged with a completed book; better yet, one that has been released into the wild for others to purchase and enjoy.

It makes it seem like 50,000 words in 30 days might actually be a reasonable goal.

What really caught my attention about this particular post though has more to do with who wrote it than it does with the content.  Years ago, when I taught creative writing as part of the after-school program at my son’s grammar school, the author of the aforementioned post was one of my students.   I love that he’s continued in his creative pursuits and has moved from a photo-copied spiral bound book of crayon illustrated stories to an actual book available for purchase on Amazon.

The post was also a nice reminder that we all have our own unique stories to tell.  Looking at my overflowing TBR pile, as well as the abundance of books on Amazon and the number are published daily, I sometimes wonder if I really need to add to all of those stories out there.  It’s not like we appear to be in danger of running out of things to read anytime soon.

That leads me to the big ball of paint.

In Indiana, hanging from a steel beam in a custom-built ball house there is a giant ball of paint.  It started in 1977 when Mike Carmichael and his toddler son covered a baseball with a coat of paint.  What was intended to be a 1000-coats-of-paint project, to see what the paint-layer cross sections would look like evolved into a still-growing 14-foot (circumference) 2.5 ton ball of more than 25,000 layers of paint.

The ball is a tourist attraction and a collaborative project.  Though it started out as a simple baseball, it has evolved into something rather unexpected.  Its continued growth is dependent on all the work that happened and continues to happen since that first layer of paint was applied; with each layer equally important.  Layer 3,452 isn’t visible any longer, but it is just as necessary as layer number 34 or 6,439 or . . . you get the idea.

All of which brings me back to the question of whether the world needs me to add yet another story to the universe of stories already out there.

Obviously the answer is yes.

Like a single layer of paint on Mr. Carmichael’s baseball, my story may be visible for a short lifespan (reading-span?), but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a place.  And who knows, once it’s out there, maybe someone will read it and be inspired to write a story of their own.  Because really, can there ever be too many stories?

I think not.

Now if you’ll excuse me, my daily NaNo word count is calling.

5 thoughts on “Elizabeth: Big Ball of Paint

  1. I love the story of the paint ball! Years ago I wrote an article about the Beat artists of San Francisco and stumbled across Jay Feo, who lived in a second floor apartment. She did a big splatter-type painting on the floor, adding layer after layer of paint to get the depth, texture—whatever—she was looking for, and kept adding to it as her mood changed. And then I think she sold it, or she needed to get it out of her apartment, and it weighed 2.5 tons and was too big to go out the door, so they had to take out a window and I think part of the wall and hire a crane to get it out.

    Thinking large: we should all do more of that! 🙂

    Have fun at NaNo! Keep us posted.

      • I should have fact-checked before I posted, Elizabeth! The artist’s name is Jay deFeo, although just now when I googled her with my original wrong spelling, the right person came up, plus images of all her paintings.

  2. Someday I want to take a cross-country tour of America and visit just the roadside attractions. There’s a Mustard Museum in Wisconsin that’s calling my name.

    I also love that one of your students went on to become a published author. How great is that?

  3. Little by little, bit by bit. What a great mantra for NaNo! (-: I’m a little afraid of my big ball of paint right now — I kind of have to get back to layer 12 to fix some of the things in layer 47. Oh well, write for now, and then worry about cataloging and fixing later. Enjoy your NaNo!

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