Posted by: Naomi Baltuck | December 26, 2011

After All!

‘The Poet’ by Constance Baltuck

I am not exaggerating when I tell you my sister Constance is a famous Alaska artist.  After all, she has a show hanging in the Alaska State Museum at this very moment, with several of her paintings in its permanent collection.  She was also just invited to show at the prestigious Artforte Gallery in Pioneer Square in Seattle.  (BTW, my walls are decked with early Baltucks, and Con has promised me their value will skyrocket after she dies.)

She felt these opportunities had dropped into her lap out of the blue.  But how many paintbrushes did she wear out preparing for this ‘sudden’ success?  For thirty years she has steadily produced beautiful art, selling out show after show.  The key phrase here is “After all…”  Yes, after all the hard work and promotion and never never never giving up, she has ‘suddenly’ hit the big time.

On the other side of the brain, my sister Miriam, heretofore the uncontested White Sheep of the Family, is a scientist.  She has worked for NASA, and at the White House for the Clinton Administration, and as the first female director of one of NASA’S three Deep Space Tracking Stations on the planet.  Her contributions to science were recently recognized when they named a planet after her.  Okay, so it was only a minor planet, but even so, it’s official…and if you don’t believe me, just Google ‘Planet Baltuck’.   So another sister busted her butt for thirty years working very long hours in very high heels to succeed in a tough field dominated by men.  That’s what you have to do if you want a planet named after you.

And if you want a book that bears your name on its spine and houses a novel that would make your mother proud, you must never never never give up on your writing.  It is a long hard journey that requires grit, discipline, and a hefty supply of bum glue.  But one day you will find that ‘suddenly’ you are a published author.  In the meantime, don’t be too hard on yourself, and always remember that success is relative.  I remember my mother declaring proudly, “Seven children, and not one of them in jail!”

Do you ever get discouraged?  Can you tell us what you do to maintain your courage and determination?  

If you would like to see more of my sister’s paintings, check out her website at:



  1. Look at you, posting every week!!!! I love this post about determination and I plan to look back on it during those days when I am feeling old and wondering what is the point of all this typing.

    • Thank so much, Terri. We can take turns reminding each other!

  2. The Baltuck sisters have indeed done their mama proud! Including you,

    • Dear Yvonne, thanks so much for your kind words! I can say the same of you.

  3. I love your mother’s definition of success. It reminds me of an Erma Bombeck quote: “A good day is one when there is no call from the principal saying your child rode a motorcycle through the wall of the high school.”

    Another quote I love is from the writer Elmore Leonard “Don’t quit. It’s easy to quit during the first ten years. Don’t quit,”

    As I begin to log my 13th year of professional storytelling, I am beginning to feel more and more comfortable in that skin. Thank you for sharing your stories of of perseverance and stick-to-it-tive-ness! Good soup for the soul.

    • Dear Anne, I love your quotes, both hitting the nail on the head, as usual! Anyone who has heard your exquisite storytelling knows that you have put in your time, paid your dues, and honed your art to perfection.

  4. Excellent advice, and so hard to remember (or even LEARN if you’re under 30) in these, the days of instant… literally, everything. We can instantly get breaking news via TV, internet, email, phone, tweets; we can instantly get a hot meal by ripping open a bag and stuffing it in the microwave oven for 30 seconds; we can instantly get money that isn’t even ours by swiping a credit card. I love your message that elbow grease, perseverance and continued trial and error learning is the true path to greatness. Thank you, Naomi!

    • Hi Sue, You make a really interesting comment on the direction our society is taking. It is kind of scary, when you stop to think about it. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on this.

  5. Wow, Naomi, what an incredibly talented family, including you!!
    I love art and writing. I will be checking out the link for your sister’s art.
    Thanks for sharing this.

    • Hi MJ, thanks so much for your kind words. It is clear that you love writing, my Freshly Pressed friend! (BTW, I loved your last post). I hope you enjoy my sister’s art too. If you look at the archives of past shows, I was there with her in Italy and France and the Tetons, and got to watch the artist at work. She sets me up with an easel and I get to paint, too, but I am mostly there to make her look good!

  6. Wow, what a gorgeous picture. You certainly have a lot of talent in your family! Thanks for the inspiration – good to be reminded during this busy season that we have to take care of our “writer selves” in addition to getting all the holiday stuff done. Time to pull out that laptop again 😉

    • Thank you, Kathy. It is one of my favorites. I painted my kitchen walls yellow, to go with that painting, and to give it a proper place to live. And as I look forward to the New Year, I think I need to do the same thing for my writing–so I am making a proper place in my life for that too. Best wishes for your writing in the New Year. Here’s a toast to 98 percent!

  7. I’m really glad you shared this post with me, Naomi. It definitely rings true; many “sudden” successes aren’t that sudden when you dig a little deeper and find the hard work that was put into an endeavor.

    Your mom certainly has a lot to be proud of in your sisters and you. 🙂

    • Hi Mike, thank you! You are so sweet! I’m happy to bask in the glow of my big sisters!

  8. I really appreciate your mother’s standard of success. And were it not for the fact that one of my sons did spend a little time in the calaboose, I would adopt her comment immediately. Maybe, I will just modify it a bit, and say, “…and not one of them in jail, right now!” I loved your post.

    • Thank you! Your comment made me laugh out loud. I’m glad you came by.

  9. Beautifully written as always Naomi! Not sure how I missed this! Love the painting, and your mom’s sense of humour!

    • Thank you, Madhu. My mother had a very quiet sense of humor, but it was always present.

  10. This is wonderful Naomi! You may not remember me – to the family I am Roby, the daughter of your mother’s cousin Burt Brownyer. I found this through our cousin Mary. It is great to find you and hear of the success of you and your sisters. I remember the summer your mother took you all to Alaska and stopped at my parent’s house in Park Forest on the way. She was an amazing woman.

    • Hi Bobbi,

      I remember visiting Burt and Louise, and I remember hearing updates from my mother about my cousin Roby whenever she talked to your mom. It is so nice to hear from you, and it was really a pleasant surprise to hear from Mary, too.
      You might want to check out my post, “What’s Mt. St. Helens Got to do With the ‘Blog on Fire Award’? It has some fun facts about the Brownyer line of the family.

      Thanks so much for writing. Let’s keep in touch–I’d love to hear what you all are up to.

  11. […] sister Constance stopped in Seattle on her way home after three months in Norway as an artist-in-residence.   We […]

  12. […] bust Aunt Loena out of Detroit for road trips.  Sometimes to Washington, D.C. to visit my sister Miriam, to Maine to see my sister Constance, or to see me and my siblings in Seattle, especially if the […]

  13. […] bust Aunt Loena out of Detroit for road trips.  Sometimes to Washington, D.C. to visit my sister Miriam, to Maine to see my sister Constance, or to see me and my siblings in Seattle, especially if the […]

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