Most of my entire life, family and friends (and sometimes strangers) have told me "You're so creative! I wish I could do that!" My early attempts at creativity were, of course, coloring books, and I felt so proud the day I was able to control the crayon well enough to keep the colors within the Bugs Bunny outline (I'm kind of sorry now that I started coloring within the lines). Years later, my great-grandmother (Old Grandma, to distinguish her from Grandma, who lived in the same house) taught me embroidery. And at some point, my mother attempted to teach me to knit. I loved to write stories, too. Back in my high school days, I joined the Society for Creative Anachronism, which necessitated making medieval garb. I fearless plunged in and cut and sewed and embellished, often sewing at the ancient electric Singer, on the floor, operating the foot control with my knee. As I got older, and probably during college, I felt the creativity dry up, contained within the constructs of academic papers and analysis. I still sat on the floor, sewing medieval costumes, but I stopped writing. Knitting never really stuck with me. I still embroidered (see "sewing medieval costumes"). And I took up spinning and weaving. Eventually the handwork insinuated itself back into my life (I'm knitting again and sporadically spinning). And within the last year or so, I've explored painting and photography, mostly as a way to inject creativity into my knitting. I started working through The Artist's Way, and for about 4 weeks, wrote Morning Pages almost every morning. I could feel a shift in what I wrote and how I used language. One day, at a loss for what to write, I whined to my Morning Pages journal "[Creative writing] got squashed, too, mostly from college and having to write academic papers. What would I write about--how would I tell a story? Do I have a story in me?" And looking at mixed media piece I had completed a few days earlier:
Once upon a time there was a fish, a beautiful fish with a luxuriant tail and burnished copper scales that flashed as the fish swam. The fish lived in an ocean of turquoise and blue, with an orange sky and pink sun above. And every day the fish would swim to the surface of the ocean and gaze at the orange sky above and wonder what it would be like to swim in the orange sky, like the butterflies dancing over the waves. And the butterflies, every day, would skim the turquoise ocean and see the fish below and wonder what it would be like to soar through the cool, cool water.
One day, the fish could no longer stand the curiosity and swam as fast as a fish could swim and burst out of the turquoise ocean and swam in the clear ocean air toward the pink sun. And the butterflies, seeing the fish so, flew as fast as butterflies could fly and flew down, down, down into the turquoise ocean.
And each saw the world of the other and understood the essence of being a fish and the essence of being a butterfly. And at the end of the day, as the pink sun was setting and the blue moon was rising, the fish with the burnished copy scales landed softly in the turquoise ocean, floating on the surface, curiosity satisfied. And the butterflies swam to the surface and floated next to the fish. And each described the wonders of their travels to foreign places to the other. And each, as they returned to their rightful place in the world, had a new appreciation for all that they had. ~~The End
My reaction to story was "Wow--where did that come from?" As I was writing that story, I got tears in my eyes and wanted to cry, in good way. I am finally finding and reclaiming my artist's voice.