The Philosophy of Creative Writing (1)
Creative expression is about growth, change and enlightenment. It reinforces the power of life and how special we all can be. It is my hope, for one brief, breathless moment, you will wake up to your own divine gifts while reading about how I awoke to mine.
If we’re going to be spending time together, you may want to know a little more about me. I come from a family that is prettily packaged and talented but somewhat dysfunctional for many reasons. We grow addictions like weeds and dream when we are awake. We have sensitive ears, noisy fingers, and loud mouths. We all suffer from the disease of depression but don’t let it stop us from living creative lives.
In the best of times, we are eager to live up to our expectations. In the worst of times, we are lost in self-pity. As for myself, I define myself as a struggling Christian, especially on Sunday, just a vessel doing God’s work. I am a mother, grandmother, a clay artist, and photographer on other days.
I always start my morning with a 30-minute jog around the bedroom. Sometimes I have to stop and think, and forget to start again. I am not a scientist-type who insists everything can be mathematically examined, related and accounted for. As a matter of fact, I am more like a curious child playing in the garden between the two houses of God and Science. Picking flowers from both makes me happy.
I can remember as a child, planning on living forever and so far so good! I didn’t know what I do now that when we get older, we wrinkle, shrink and don’t have many good hair days left. We pamper what hair we have left that isn’t gray. The grays we torture by tugging, plugging, or dyeing. We spend a lot of time looking for our keys and glasses hiding from us. Sometimes our nerves make our limbs begin jumping and jiving when there is no music. We also keep repeating, repeating, repeating, what we know. We all have to contend with gravity. It is the idea that I am a writer that keeps me pounding my computer keys for our mutual wellness.
I am not a teacher or doctor. I am just an ordinary woman living in an extraordinary imperfect word. I am always trying to find a balance between joy and sadness in my life. I don’t think of myself as an expert on what is right for everyone. We’re all teachers for one another. Martin Luther King once said, “Not everyone can be famous. But everyone can be great.” I, myself, have learned with good intentions and some hard work, all of us can be great by staying true to our values, integrity, and our own Creator.
My beginning journey with clay, photography, and writing brought me more than joy. Expressing myself creatively has been good medicine for me. The ancient Greeks knew this when they appointed Apollo as the god of both poetry and medicine. Even Jesus reminds us what you bring forth will save you. What you do not bring forth from within will destroy you. Some of us even think headaches are in fact poems waiting to be written.
So get rid of that nagging pain of tension in your head, and start writing a poem about writing:
Words are healers whether we are writing them or reading them. Of course, a loving friend can be a healer. A song can be a healer. A celebratory greeting card can be a healer. An image that empowers you can be a healer, much like a photograph, sculpture, painting, or a simply-glazed clay pot. Sometimes I feel like I’m way out there in Never-Never Land, a strange observer from a strange land.
But in truth, creative souls like poets and artists are very much of this world. We just make everything a game. We play connect-the-dots with words and feelings, paying close attention to the sound and flower of our memories, as well as their arrangement on the page. I play connect-the-dots with sentences, images, or word pictures. I always have a copy of a poem book in front of me when I write. I look for ideas, metaphors or topics that interest me. I’m always looking for an initial thought burst, memory, or feeling I can blow out of proportion and use in a grand over-indulgent way. “You may discover your best poems while writing your worst prose,” says Joyce Carol Oates. “As soon as you connect with your true subject, you will write.”
If I had to describe my inner poet, I’d say he looked at the world a little eschewed. He lives patiently in me, giving me a fragrant hope where there was once none. He inspired me to write although it never occurred to me I could write anything of value. Surprisingly, the more I wrote, the more I had to say. I’ve read an author must be like God, present everywhere but visible nowhere. Somerset Maugham says, “If you can tell stories, create characters, devise incidents, and have sincerity and passion, it doesn’t matter a damn how you write.” Samuel Johnson says, “The two most engaging powers of an author are to make new things familiar, and familiar things new.” When the right words come to me, they are as beautiful and unsought as country wild flowers.
There are many ways of being artful. I like to sit doodling spontaneously and scribbling with permanent gel pens. For other fun ideas, take a look into scrapbooking and revisit your youth when drawing was a fulfilling emotional experience. Try to draw on your computer in the Paint file. Don’t forget to go to art galleries and art museums. Take friends or kids along. Looking at art can be as restoring health-wise as making your own. You can also make yourself an image journey with all the special symbols that tug at your heart. Fill it with photographs, doodles, and scribbling. Everyone has fun making it and reading it.
To write poetry I sometimes start out with the words, “I am…or I am silly…or I am afraid…or, I am not like anyone else. You can also write a Pet Peeve Poem, by reacting to a common, everyday annoyance like the phone ringing when you’re in the bathroom! Choose a subject that irritates you enough to be memorable or humorous. Decide if you want your poem to be serious, playful or sarcastic. There is something about our milestones that beg to have their passes marked on paper even our annoyances and mishaps. Our only goal is to be truthful, and if we can fake that on paper, we’ve got it made. Mark Twain says, “Most writers regard the truth as their most valuable possession, and, therefore, are most economical in its use. Elvis Presley says, “Truth is like the sun. You can shut it out for a time, but it isn’t going’ away.”
There are many ways of introducing transparency and spontaneous imaging to your art. Watercolors can amaze and delight all. Try dipping art sponges and soft brushes into watercolors lightly. Sparingly dab here and there on watercolor paper and see the liquid take shape. You will see flowers, trees, grass, even faces as you shower your paper with unintentional wasps here and there. It might help to think of your images like living things. They have breath, purpose and time to play and time to evolve. Your only problem is stopping before you ruin them! We doodle and draw to communicate events and experiences we have no words to express. Try your own pen and ink images.
Again, it may be easier to let your non-dominant hand dab here and there with soft sponges and brushes, as quickly as you can, and see what your inner artist wants to show you. Then finish your drawings by playing connect-the-dots with your imagination. Don’t be afraid. Even if you consider yourself to be a non-artist like I have most of my life, you can tap into your soul’s palette. We humans were designed to need to express ourselves creatively.
My book is not a technical book on Art Therapy. I am not a doctor; I write for fun and wellness, mine and yours. I hope you can appreciate what I say, the way I say it even if I break all grammar rules along the way. I’d like to recommend the following books to anyone who needs healing from the inside-out by professionals.
If you need a more technical and varied look at all the accepted and suggested techniques of Art Therapy, read the following which helped me immensely in my personal journey and my own book:
The Soul’s Palette by Cathy A. Malchiodi
The Secret of the Shadow by Debbie Ford
Creating with the Angels by Terry Lynn Taylor