Day 2 of Writing Class: List

These are the choices:

  • Things I Like
  • Things I’ve Learned
  • Things I Wish
  • Things You’re Good At

I wrote a whole draft of a list of Things I’ve Learned, but I decided to do something different with the same topic.

Things I’ve Learned about My “Writer” Identity:

  1. I’ve been hiding in the writer “closet” for years, at least 30 years.
  2. I was struggling with this beast back in 1985 in my writer’s journal for an English Creative Writing class in high school.
  3. It’s always been, “What do I write about?”, “What do I have to say that people will want to read?”, having this urge to write but not having anything to write or write about, least of all fiction.
  4. I try in every way possible to destroy my thinking of myself as a writer or at least place obstacles in my pat. I left the 1985 writers journal on a subway two weeks ago. I was terribly upset and angry at myself. I had lost a big clue to who I was, not as a teenager, but as a budding writer back in 1985. When I first discovered that journal in the spring, I felt like I had been given a time capsule to this person that had been me, at least, what she wrote and how she thought about writing. I found it at this point where I had started writing a lot more again, so it seemed so just right that it fell into my lap.
  5. Did I lose that journal to tell myself that I can’t write or to make things hard for me, did I lose that writer in me, or that key into my mind as a 17 year old, or, did I lose that journal because I don’t need it and have already incorporated that writer inside me and need to focus on what I am writing now or my writing process? the Maybe both are true. The reason I was carelessly carrying around this old green covered Meade notebook was that I brought it to my therapy session that morning to show my therapist. This is a new therapist I am working with after several years hiatus from therapy. One main focus of my therapy is my struggle to be ok with being a writer and with my writing. It seemed even more of a message from the universe that the last event with that journal was for that very purpose. I texted my therapist about it right after I lost it. I seemed to need for him to know that he was the last person to see it and hear it.
  6. The more I write, the more I delete my writing and sometimes edit it but no longer just look at a first draft as finished. I used to write posts for this blog and fling them out there. Now even for the blog, I write many drafts I never post.
  7. I started writing something new in the spring that was a new kind of writing and a new sort of genre I tried out, some kind of  personal narrative. I did not know until then how much my work as an art therapist from the past especially was going into my writing. The other thing I discovered was writing and my daughter, writing about being her mother and writing with her. I already considered her a good writer back when she got excited by writing in second grade.
  8. The whole writing issue, beast or monster is intricately connected with my  GraphicNovel, started in 2000, which is a sort of memoir of the mind. This graphic novel has been torturing me for the past 16 years, most of which have been “writers block” years. It was started with the goal of publishing it; that goal has always been there despite my success in squashing it.
  9. My writing and my art have been coexisting with my Graphic Novel illness. I only realized it with writing recently when I saw that the more I write the more likely I am to get back to the graphic novel, and that whatever I’m writing somehow seems to be an act of avoiding working on the graphic novel, but sometimes seems to get me back to it. The art coexisting has been going on since the beginning. This last project involving cartoons, Bathroom Art Only, is the first series of work where my art directly connected to the graphic novel and sort of spilled into it and the art work threw me back into it after a long block. Then the door closed a few months until my writing flung me back at it. At other times, my art has seemed to focus on being as different and far away from the graphic novel as possible, as if it is trying to keep me away from it.
  10. The graphic novel has become a strange realization of my personal “Pictures and Words” struggle. More on that another time. End of list!

 

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Everyday Inspiration Day 1

This is a topic, “I write because”, where I am excited to say that today, I wrote because my 9 year old daughter was writing; I have a love hate relationship with writing, but when we write at the same time, I enjoy writing and don’t feel all the usual crazy stuff and insecurity and everything else that comes with torturing yourself writing and in between writing.

The prompt was a great 4th grade prompt: Cake or Cupcakes, which do you prefer? A very important question that I have pondered quite a bit.

It just so happened that we went to get cupcakes today with her friends and friend’s babysitter Heidi. I already knew my daughter was writing in favor of cake.

So here is my writing that I did in the 20 minutes that she did her piece. I’d also like to say that writing for 20 minutes is great because you enjoy it and have fun but don’t go too much into it and get caught up. For the ADHD writer, it’s great. No time to get bored or distracted except within the topic.

Ok, here it is. I have to add that my daughter asked me to put it in this blog!

Actually it is probably more fun to read as a post on its own, so I will make a separate post right now, write now!

Day 2: Write a List

Ray Bradbury wrote a list of nouns to get inspired. I will try it too.

  1. caviar
  2. heads
  3. sandwiches
  4. The thing on a ceiling fan that turns
  5. lint trap
  6. matches
  7. oven thermometer
  8. cork paper
  9. arteries
  10. surge protector
  11. planets
  12. eyes
  13. fringe
  14. cape
  15. stamp
  16. selfie-stick
  17. fog
  18. indignation
  19. boxing gloves
  20. cable
  21. bridge
  22. castle
  23. cloud
  24. brush pen
  25. dream catcher
  26. mermaid
  27. water

I’m not sure what this list will do for me. I guess while making it, I was judging myself for mostly listing objects I’m seeing in my studio. If I look at it from another person’s point of view, any of these things could be a portal into something else and could spark something creative. I’m too lazy right now to actually try using five of them in a few sentences. It feels forced.

Writing Class, Day 1: I write because

I’m taking this class to get back into writing. I’m trying to write a graphic novel that I started in 2000 and still haven’t finished. I hope this class will inspire me to get back to doing it.

So I have nothing in particular to write about for this class; I want to return to the joy of writing for the pleasure of writing.

The assignment is simply to explain what makes you write. I am rereading the Miracle Worker (the play), so I looked to Helen Keller for her thoughts on writing and found this gem:

“Trying to write is very much like trying to put a Chinese puzzle together. We have a pattern in mind which we wish to work out in words; but the words will not fit the spaces, or, if they do, they will not match the design.”

I found this very fascinating coming from someone who is visually impaired. As a visual person myself, I love this idea about patterns. It is close to the approach to writing of Vladimir Nabokov, one of my favorite authors.

 

I can’t see writing or art making in this way that Keller does, as I don’t have images or patterns in mind before or during the process of creating. I just start with something and see where it goes. Maybe after something comes out, I see something and try to play with the form in subsequent collages or drawings. Even with my struggle to do my graphic novel, I do it page by page, and have no idea who or what will appear until it’s happening.

This quote from Nabokov seems pretty accurate as a description of what I’m doing in my graphic novel:

“The writer’s job is to get the main character up a tree, and once they are there, throw rocks at them.”

So, why do I write?

Words. Language. The first thing Annie Sullivan does to engage with Helen Keller is to spell words of things with her, to teach her language, that everything in her world has a name. As humans, even when we cannot see, hear or speak in words, we have some kind of innate hunger for language. We want to make something that symbolizes what is in our mind or environment. Language is an abstraction. Writing with words is a way to move into a world that exists only in our minds.

I like to write because the use of words leads to the imagination, where anything is possible. My favorite book ever written remains Alice in Wonderland. There is no reason for anything in the book. Alice is not on a quest to find herself or get home or anything else. She is curious and wants to explore and see what is down the rabbit hole and in the garden. Something is locked, so she has to find the key and get in to see what is there! It is very evident that Carroll successfully got her up on that tree and he and the others in the book are throwing metaphorical “rocks” at her!

For me this is the purest reason for writing, to see the familiar from a different point of view where everything becomes strange. Alice can’t use the language from her real world in Wonderland. Every time she recites something, it comes out strange and different.

That is my reason to write, to be surprised by what comes out and to see how the most ordinary word is not ordinary at all…

 

Poem: Magic

There is a little magic in every moment:

to open up the magic I open up myself

and unwrap whatever might be covering up that package of magic.

today it’s a poem that was wrapped in shiny gold paper and tied with a shiny gold sparkled ribbon.

I tore off the wrapping in excitement.

What a tiny little box to open up.

a little voice that seemed to come from a tiny person in there

said Hello and welcome.

Poetry Day 8: Flavor Elegy Enumaratio

Hope:

Hope used to taste like the cinnamon sugar mix on cinnamon sugar toast, The crumbly pastry on the edge of lemon meringue pie, the piece of lobster and butter coming out of the shell you bit into,

Hope used to taste like your fingers when you sucked on them, syrup you licked off the plate after the pancakes, the chocolate left on the candy wrapper, the bubbles in your ginger ale.

Now Hope has no taste. It’s a tiny wind that comes out of a little hole somewhere and you feel the invisible breath of it on your cheek for only a half second

before it has flown away. Sometimes you feel it coming from behind, like snow when it is falling diagonal. You turn around and it’s melted.

It’s like a hummingbird, light and fast and almost invisible, hovering near a flower, then not there as clearly as when it was there.

You can’t wait for it, you can’t ask for it, you can’t beg for it, you can’t cry for it, you can’t sigh for it, you can’t scream for it.

It’s in the moment your heart skipped a beat. it’s in the space between words. It’s the mistake in the painting, it’s the cookie you burned, the fall you had that skinned your knee.

Hope has no flavor no more. It lives still, in a quiet silent tiny invisible thread holding on to the air you breathe.

Poetry, Day 2: Skin, Prose Poem, Internal Rhyme

Warning: this is kind of intense written from the point of view of someone who suffers from “dermatillomania”, a skin picking compulsion. I am not doing this in real life but I work with patients who have this issue usually due to childhood trauma… In some ways the urges and picking is similar to self cutting behaviors where it’s soothing in some way and people who feel like they aren’t allowed to really be who they are can feel the physical sensation as well as trying to get to dig to some sense of self.

So here is the poem:

Picking at my skin, digging in, popping a pimple open then feeling a bit of wetness ooze out. Can’t stop now, digging in with the nail of my right index finger. I get in my pale skin and under to the red raw piece. Greedy for bleeding, small drop of red blood wets on top of the cut my nail made. The jail of skin opens up to me to get under and pick more. Sore skin blood thin. My face full of pick marks more like ripped paper, not skin. Deep in I could get to bone and then would I be real? Would I be my own me? The marks on my face like writing, writing my thin hiding, my skin turned inside out I am so far in I can’t come out without pus and blood, sore and wet like grout that holds together frail pieces of my cover.

Writing 101: Day 8: Expand a comment

I’m catching up on my assignments for Writing 101. It’s Day 15 but I’m on Day 8!

So I found one of my comments as a reply to someone. The idea is to take a comment you made on your blog or wherever and write more about it.

Here’s the comment:  “Fashion is my big love after art and art therapy!!!” The context was a photo I posted of an outfit and someone’s comment about it, so I thanked them and said that the above comment. I will keep it brief to continue the one sentence or a few thing, but not one sentence, maybe 4-7 sentences…

Fashion is my big love after art and art therapy. I did not think about drawing and painting or even like doing it until I was about 19 or 20 and “accidentally” took a drawing class. I remember loving fashion and clothing even as a kid. The only thing I remember drawing was dresses when I was probably 6 or 7. I remember liking to draw puffed sleeves and not wanting to draw arms. I really got into fashion and clothing around 8th grade and throughout high school and it just continued throughout my adult life. I was a big fan of Betsey Johnson back then in the 80’s and loved her “punk” label. I had to wear a uniform in high school, and this definitely put a damper on my love for purple and any color that wasn’t allowed. We were supposed to wear white, black, yellow, green or blue with the uniform, and I wanted to wear purple, red, pink and orange. Anyway, fashion was always fun and exciting for me as a teenager. I loved going to the East Village back then when it was the East Village! I even designed my high school graduation “gown”.

Now as an adult, I am an avid watcher of Project Runway and have seen every episode since the beginning. It is one of my top favorite TV shows, and I don’t like “Reality TV”! Ok. That was a lot longer than a few sentences, and I could expand on this post more, but this is it for now. If I was good at sewing and precision, I would be a fashion designer! In another life!

Writing 101, Day 7. “Hook’em with A Quote.”

I chose this quote because it came to mind right away. Simple sentences are my new mantra. Life without art is stupid. It is true. It is simple. It needs to be said. People take art for granted, degrade it, devalue it, stomp on it, but it refuses to go away. When you use less words you can get to the real stuff more directly. You don’t have an option to pile on words and decorate and embellish. In other words, no bullshit.

Life without art is stupid.

The other important thing about this quote is that Einstein or Van Gogh, the Dalai Lama or Jesus or Virginia Woolf did not say it. I don’t know who said it. I first saw it as a photo on a sign. When you have no person to go with the quote, there is no extra stuff piled on, no association to a great artist. It could have been said by an artist who sold no paintings, had no shows. You don’t get to say, well this person was such and such so blah blah blah. I think some of the best things were said by Anonymous.

If I were telling someone what I’ve learned in the 47 years I’ve been on earth, what kind of wisdom I would impart, etc. I would have this wonderful answer, “Life without art is stupid.”

The great thing is the quote says so much in five words that I have nothing much to add to it. I can say that these are the words I live by, that for the most part, life without art would not only be stupid, it would be unbearable. Imagine having no music, no paintings, drawings, no movies, TV shows, no comic books, no literature, no video games, etc.

There’s your answer to the question, Is this true and what does it mean?. Life without art is impossible. So next time you come across a person making anything, and you know they are going to not get paid for it and maybe nobody will be the audience of it, or that this person or you might make it and throw it in the garbage, just remember that this person, simply by making something that is not useful in any practical way, by making something the world doesn’t need, is contributing to your life having value.

When you see a creative YouTube video and think, wow, only three people looked at it and it’s been up for a year; why do they bother. Remember this quote and know that every person out there has a creative spirit, and without the collective of our creative spirits, life would be unlivable, stupid, impossible, unbearable. You would not be here right now without art. Period.