Springing Back into Writing (see what I did there?)Posted: April 3, 2013
Life is funny. It throws you a lot of curve balls.
For the duration of the winter, which is now finally gasping its last dying breath, my life has been one curve ball after another. I have let writing slip to the back burner, then to the counter next to the stove, then into the kitchen cabinets. It’s not that I don’t want to write, it’s just that I’m not ready to share everything that I have going on in my life, and I haven’t really had the mental focus to string sentences together in a worthwhile way.
A week or so ago, I finally wrote an eleven page, heartfelt, hand-written, old-fashioned letter to a close friend of mine. Putting my thoughts down on paper like that stirred up some of the stagnation in my brain, and got me a step closer to returning to this blog. I updated my facebook page, and tried to work up the will power to just get on with it.
My recent problem is that writing, especially blogging, has been occupying this gray area between “want to” and “should.” I can churn out the ‘shoulds’ every day, and then I move onto the ‘want tos’ (or sometimes the other way around), but the stuff in between often doesn’t happen.
The things I’ve been wanting to do (and thus doing) lately have all been visual. I’ve been creating, just not the way I normally do.
Maybe a month or so ago, I bought some supplies at a nearby Staples to organize my writing better, based on an index-card filing system I’d read about in The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing.
I had a lot of nerdy fun that evening, labeling index card boxes using the little index card tab dividers, then writing various things onto cards and putting them into their proper sections. I bought two fine-point Sharpie pens for the purpose, and quickly became smitten with them.
The next thing that popped into my head was the desire to draw something in pencil and then go over the lines with my new Sharpie pens. I really just wanted an excuse to use the pens. So, I drew an abstract little design with swoopy, paisley-like shapes, and darkened the outlines with the delightfully smooth, velvety black ink.
Then I began to fill in the shapes with my favorite media, Berol colored pencils. My wonderful Aunt Dodie gave me a generous gift of a big set of them back when I was a kid, when I used to do a lot of drawing. (Mostly fairies and mermaids, if you must know.) They are outstanding quality (the pencils, not the fairy drawings), and I’ve used them a great deal, but they have lasted.
To add to this sudden artistic fixation, a new Michael’s store opened down the road from me, and I initially went in to pick up some more yarn for a blanket I was knitting. Once inside, though, there was no getting me out of there. (Chris should be thanking his lucky stars that I went while he was at work.)
I wandered up and down the aisles of drawing tools, paints, and different types of paper. I gathered up plastic organizing containers from the scrapbooking section, and bought some colored pencils to add to my collection – lovely pastel colors that I didn’t already have. I went home and reorganized my craft drawers, and suddenly wanted to use everything.
I’ve since been drawing, coloring, tracing, and painting. I finished coloring my first picture, and used tracing paper to transfer a reverse image of it onto another piece of paper, which I finished using contrasting colors, to make companion pieces. I was really happy with how they came out, so I just kept going.
I traced a photo of a cardinal from a greeting card that I had, transferred it to water color paper, and then painted it with acrylics, cut it out, and put it onto another sheet that I had painted with watercolors. I was so excited with how that turned out, that I just couldn’t get enough.
Every day, I’ve been working on my various art creations. It’s been so relaxing and enjoyable, that I just haven’t been able to tear myself away to try to write.
Today, however, I was inspired. Sometimes inspiration comes from unlikely sources, and that’s exactly what happened today. A few weeks ago, I reserved a book at the library that I had been looking forward to reading (The Lost Art of Mixing, by Erica Bauermeister – the sequel to her glorious debut novel, The School of Essential Ingredients, which I’ve reviewed on my other blog). When someone called to tell me it was available, I rushed over to pick it up, only to find that there were two books waiting for me.
The second was a book on writing, which the library director had slyly rubber-banded to The Lost Art of Mixing. He and I talk about writing a great deal, as he is a playwright, and he has been hugely supportive of my efforts (even without reading them). He ordered the book for the library’s collection, and when it came in, he wanted to make sure I was the first to get it, so he just added it to my held book. He’s pretty awesome like that. He wasn’t there when I picked up the Erica Bauermeister book, so I was left to just suspect that the second book was his doing (which he later confirmed), and I gamely checked it out.
The book he wanted me to read, which I was reading this morning, is Natalie Goldberg‘s The True Secret of Writing. I’d never read anything of hers before, so I didn’t know what to expect. What I found was something a little too New Age for my taste. I’ve been pushing myself to get through it for the sake of my friendly local librarian, but I haven’t been enjoying it much or getting a lot out of it. Then, something I read this morning, 101 pages into the book, just clicked in my brain.
Suddenly, I had something I wanted to write about. I had to get it out. I logged onto 750words.com, and let loose. It felt great. I petered out with my idea after about 800 words, but I wanted to keep writing, so the next natural thing to do was to come here.
I don’t know if it will last, if I will come back again tomorrow and continue to write, if my idea will hold up, if I’ll try something else, or if I’ll just lapse back into indifference. I do know that I have a date with my colored pencils to work on my current project, a drawing of a treble clef.
Thanks for sticking with me through my ramble. Hopefully it will inspire you to jump into something creative, whatever it may be.