ramblings

On loosing the ability to write...and getting it back again

Growing up, I was told a lot that I had a talent for writing, that I was....a writer.  I heard this from my parents and teachers, primarily.  I became pretty accustomed to praise for the papers I turned in, whether prose, or poetry, or research, or book reports, I was told I had a natural talent.  And writing, unlike math, was always something I understood easily and, even though research papers still weren't enjoyable for me, the effort that came with them was a familiar one, one that I could wrap myself around and had confidence I would eventually reach the end and find myself having completed a comprehensible and intelligent paper.  (Math, on the other hand was and is largely a foreign language that I have no confidence in my ability to understand or put together anything legible around.  I'm speaking of anything that goes beyond simply addition, subtraction, and multiplication.)

I was always a little baffled by the praise I received for my writing since it seemed like nothing extraordinary to me.  I didn't put in large amounts of effort, I didn't pour myself into it; instead, I just sort of dashed something off and proof read it a few times, tinkered with phrases until satisfied and, yes, that will do.  I felt praise should be received only after the utmost effort, sweat, blood, and so on, so I felt somewhat uncomfortable with the praise my essays and prose garnered, like it wasn't something I'd earned, not really.  

Fast forward to now, 13 years after graduating college.  When I turned in my last paper, I breathed a sigh of relief and walked away.  I would become a ceramic artist, I said, and not have to mess around with those god awful school papers anymore.  I've never though of myself as a writer and, despite the praise, it wasn't a career I was drawn too.  But there's a funny relationship between natural abilities and what we end up doing, isn't there? Even as I've worked at becoming a full time ceramic artist, I found myself thinking about how I would write about this, if I were to write it all down.  I've dreamed of having a space to write about my life for, well... years, really.  But I've been both afraid and consumed by other demands like motherhood and it's overwhelming realities as well as recovery from a background that can be, shall we say, crazy making at times. So when I finally did start trying to write again, in fits and starts, I found the words don't flow quite as easily as they used to and that yes, in fact, you can loose an ability if you don't use those muscles once in awhile.  There were those first tremors of Oh Dear God, I don't know how to write anymore! But they passed because, well, absurd.  But still, like my pottery has only ever been improved by practice, same with writing and so here we are.  I'm practicing again, and it's not as easy as before, but it's kind of fun all the same.  

A Space for Play

trees in the columbia river gorge make an interesting pattern of black and white. 

trees in the columbia river gorge make an interesting pattern of black and white. 

morning light plays off a set of freshly thrown bowls.

morning light plays off a set of freshly thrown bowls.

 

When I first signed up for Instagram, I either wasn't aware that it was a social media site as well as a picture editing app or I just didn't care.  I can't remember which.  But for a long time, I didn't bother following anyone or look for friends or mess with hashtags.  I was having too much fun rediscovering my love of photography, even if only iPhone-ography.   I took pictures of whatever I felt like and edited them with impunity, playing around with all the filters and all the frames, with no thought to the 'cohesion of the grid' or ' building a following for my business.  I didn't even realize one could use the app for that.  I didn't realize it at the time, but there was incredible freedom in my naiveté.   I'm the granddaughter of an accomplished photography and I even considered it as a career choice at one point, back before digital was a thing and turned everyone into a photographer.  I will always love photography in a deep way.  

Instagram became a creative outlet for me that my ceramic work couldn't be since in the studio, I always had one eye on the customer. I'm not sure it can be helped, entirely, but once you start selling work, phrases like 'a cohesive body of work', and 'marketable pieces,' start swirling around, regardless of how much attention you choose to pay to them.  Also, deeper, harder questions of why do I make this work, what is my vision, how does it fit into the grand scheme, where are my roots.... all good questions but hard work and draining at times.  The need for pure play is also important and Instagram was that for me.  

That all changed when I started reading about using Instagram for marketing, when I started gaining followers, when I realized people wanted to see my pottery, not so much pictures of my kids (although I much prefer the latter).  I still have fun there but it's also work now too.  But I'm wondering, now I have this blog, a blog no one is reading.  Can this be my play space, at least for a while?  I'm testing the waters of online journaling right now, not even sure I want to have a blog on my site.  Mostly this is because I have found it hard to get back into the habit of writing after so long away.  And also, being tech challenged, I'm nervous about my ability to figure out things like tags and links and such.  But then there's that possibility of play again.  And I have things to say that are hard to fit into an instagram or Facebook post.  So, it's an experiment.  We'll see how it goes.   Could be fun...