Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Lost "Art" of Writing

November 20th will mark 2 years since I began my foray into visual arts. I had been so TIRED of my written journal; it didn't seem to encompass, anymore, everything I felt inside, the imagery in my mind & heart that I wanted to see (really SEE), and not just try to capture with words. My creative writing seemed to have dried up, except for an occasional sparkling journal entry. My journal, in fact, had nearly disappeared from existence.]

At the time, my co-worker [& boss] Sally L., was still living, fighting pancreatic cancer with humor and determination perfectly melded. It was Sally who suggested, when one day I was whining about being tired of 'just writing', "You should try rubber stamping." It was Sally who talked with me often, and deeply, about her experience as a stamper, a scrapper, a basketmaker, the process of creation, the germination of ideas. It was Sally who explained to me about eyelet setters (about eyelets, too!), about heat guns, about embossing powders, about different kinds of ink pads than the cheezy ones I'd been buying at Walmart. Sally put all my visual gears in motion, every single one of them. She died, god dammit -- it'll be two years in January of 2008. I miss her. I miss her abject DELIGHT in her grandkids, her wry wit, her ability to sit across from me for an entire day without talking but still oozing comraderie.

Sally? I love you. I thank you.

Meanwhile, in the last two years my journal moved from written to visual, in varying guises while I figured myself out as a visual, mixed-media artist [a still on-going process], but still the words remained locked up and put away. I didn't want to write; I was so enthralled by images, patterns, color, embellishments, techniques, fun gizmos and gadgets, rubber stamps, ink pads, powders, paints, clay, scraps, bits of found objects. In my journals, I wrote small, concise entries, mostly 'reportage' ['today i started this project, i did 400 loads of laundry, i spoke to so-&-so], but no part of me emerged in the words -- it was all contained in the visuals, and I LIKED not explaining those images, just knowing what they meant to me, why they worked, why the timing was right and how it all connected to my mental place.

I've read blog after blog after blog, finding inspiration everywhere for the visual and mixed-media aspects of my art, but my journal has stayed by me [on my table, on my lap, or stuffed into my "big-ass-purse", as I always say]. Still the reportage entries and lots o'visuals. So many visuals, in fact, that I barely had room for a 1- or 2-sentence reportage. I never 'knew' I 'could' write ON the images, across them, around them, through them. Pictures over here, words over there.

It was this blog that freed me from that block:

Patty Van Dorin is its author, and I'm addicted to her blog - I read it daily, and sometimes several times. And it was this September 20th blog entry of hers, with the picture, that blew my mind open about how to 'write' in my journal: About this picture [posted here with Patty's permission], Patty wrote: 'The page above is glued and ready for journal entries.' I gaped at it -- I mean, every square inch is covered in images, right? Where in the world is she going to put journal entries? Does she write them on something else and tape them in? What the heck??????

But BAM!!! My brain turbo'd on ahead of me & my stooopid literalness, pointed, and said, "Hey, Wench, that means she writes ON the images. Cool!" Cool indeed. Rocked my journal world. Also changed my entire way of 'ripping & tearing', because now I don't just save the images I like from the magazines I acquire, subscribe to, or otherwise bandit from somewhere -- now I also save pages with beautiful patterns or backgrounds. [Actually, now I mostly just save entire magazines, which is creating something of a storage problem in my already-overwhelmed, over-stuffed studio.]

Patty? I love you. And I thank you.

Still, gorgeous patterns & dreamy backgrounds just don't leave a lot of room for words, just briefs. I appreciate learning to be brief, trust me [oh DO trust me]. But I've noticed in the last 5 months that every time I complete a visual project, words are streaming like twelve rivers meeting right behind it, and I have NO ROOM in any of the 6.8 million different journals I currently have going to write. To write REAL words, word flows, thought flows, streams of consciousness, poetry drafts.

So now what? My visual art is clearly gifting me back my written art. Do I just have an entirely separate journal, yet another journal, for writing only? I'm shaking my head even as I type that, because I can't stand the DRY IDEA of that. I gotta have both. My project now is to brainstorm how to keep a journal that allows room for visuals, the image stimulation I am so in need of, but also ample AMPLE space for words, for writing, for endless writing sessions, practice writing, journal writing vs. briefs/reportage. Because the words are back in town, and I know them well enough to know that having returned, they ain't going away.

Words? I love you. And I'm so glad you're back, too. You were my original art, my initial expression, you have carried me in journals and poetry and letters and lyrics since I was a wee lassie, and 'officially' since I began a written journal in August of 1976. 32 years. And, oddly, the responses I receive to this blog are one-in-the same: love your writing, you should be a writer. It will be fascinating to see if the visual art-ing has pumped up my written abilities, won't it?