Words have always been an important part of my life – from learning them with my mom and grandmom as a wee one at bedtime, to playing with them in creative writing nearly every day, to teaching the power (and fun!) of them for 20+ years – so imagine my dismay when words became unreachable to me. From forgetting them to just not hearing any in my head, words escaped me.
A year ago at this time, I was struggling professionally and needing desperately to make a change. Waiting for a new position within my organization felt endless. Normally, writing would have been my therapy, but in a cruel twist of events, my writing voice suddenly fell silent, forcing me to find a new way to cope.
In my desperation to find my writing voice again, two things happened:
1. I remembered a writing form I learned a few years ago with my high school students, then shared and created with them: blackout poetry (or ‘found poetry’) …. and realized I could ‘write’ again, but this time, finding the stories within the words.
A blank page (or screen) gave way to pages of words, waiting to be plucked in my search for a story, no matter how big or small. I went through many black pens and old books, magazines, and newspapers the first few months of 2015! As
we (my husband) watched TV, I skimmed, scanned, tore, cut, marked, and gathered. I’m pretty sure he thought I’d lost my mind (and hoped I’d get back to writing soon and stop leaving bits of paper under my chair).
2. I decided to find and purchase a vintage typewriter… it would be my birthday present, an homage to my writing life, and (hopefully) the kickstart I needed to find my writing voice again. I admit – it’s a beautiful instrument dating back to the early 1900s, its cousin I bought a few months later, circa 1940s, is equally stunning, but sadly, neither led to rediscovering my writing voice. Exactly.
Instead, searching for the typewriters led me to vintage things to collect and art supplies (lots of art supplies!), and one thing led to another. I began using words to create one-of-a-kind greeting cards, something I’d wanted to do for years. Somehow, the mix of paints, inks, and vintage textiles – along with “found words” in others’ writing – helped plant words in my head that I could share with others.
Creating art on those little pieces of real estate became my salvation – and a different kind of kickstart, it turns out.
For someone who’s curious about nearly everything, playing with acrylic and watercolor paints led to learning about other mediums and forms of art.
*art medium: the materials an artist uses to create. Enter mixed media – a form of art that allows an artist to tell stories through multiple mediums (aka multiple media) in a single project…. words or not.
Enter the magic of writing and art.
Fast-forward to the last day of 2015, and as I sit here typing, my keyboard is both surprised and happy… for the first time in a long time, to not be playing second fiddle to my art table. Trusty companion it’s been the past year, my keyboard has acted as DJ while Pandora gave life to the dozens of art projects scattered in my (new) art studio, now sharing space with my (old) writing studio. lovely!
With only a few hours to go in 2015, I can look back and say it’s been a good year – with positive things happening alongside the scary. As we look ahead, I’m excited to start a new year with new opportunities and a few specific goals.
I’m excited to be writing again and plan to put it, along with my art, together for a special project in 2016, one I hope will be the first of many.
I’m also looking forward to expanding my art business (which officially became a small business in June at the urging of a family member, “You gotta decide, Robin. Is it a hobby or a business?”
So there it is… when writing leads to art, leads to writing, leads to art … and writing!
I feel like I’ve come full circle in 2015 and looking forward to 2016. Hope you are, too!