The Stories I Tell ~ from The Word Cellar

Stories. Anecdotes. A free round of words for everyone!

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Location: Pennsylvania, United States

I love stories. I'm the one at social functions with a dozen new anecdotes. But I worry about hogging the conversation. Sometimes I tell myself that I'll be quiet and let others do the talking. But no matter how hard I try, my stories insist on bursting out! Here I can let my stories (the classics that I tell again and again, as well as new ones that unfold along the way) run free. I'm a professional writer and editor, and sole proprietor of The Word Cellar. I write for a variety of publications and clients on everything from green buildings and nuclear reactors to entrepreneurship and the arts. If you need words written, edited, or enlivened, I can help. Contact me.


All that glitters

You know that girl in your head who tells you can't do it, so why even try? Well, I know that she's a liar, but she has me petrified. I'm not mad at her, because I understand that she's just scared and doesn't want to see me fail. Her scope is so limited that she can barely imagine the possibility that I might succeed, or at least have some fun along the way. I feel bad for her (let's call her Violet) because she usually sits alone, cautiously looking around, making sure that nothing will force her out of her comfortable little corner. Violet is extremely suspicious of the other girl (let's call her Phoebe) who lives across the way, in another corner.

Unlike Violet, Phoebe doesn't usually stay put. She's all over the place, flitting here and there, running about laughing, even venturing over to Violet's corner and inviting her to come out and play. On a good day, Violet does. And each time it's like discovering a whole new world. "Look at this!" says Phoebe. "Isn't it beautiful? Isn't it fun? Aren't we wrapped up in the joy and wonder of it all?"

On those good days, Violet responds, "Yes! I never knew it could all be so marvelous! How could I ever think that my one little corner was enough?" And she and Phoebe hold hands, laughing, skipping, just living and breathing pure magic.

But on the bad days, Violet, who has a pessimistic and mean streak, looks at Phoebe and says, "What's the use? What's so great about any of this? You keep trying, but it's just so hard sometimes, isn't it? Wouldn't you rather take a nap, Phoebe?"

Phoebe is fiercely independent and annoyingly optimistic, but even she can't hold out forever. Most of the time she simply tells Violet that she loves her and will always welcome her to come and play. But sometimes, on the worst of days, Phoebe takes Violet's gloomy advice and retreats to her own corner, drifting into an uneasy sleep.

A few weeks ago I signed up for a Postcard Swap hosted by Karen of Chookooloonks. The idea instantly thrilled me for two reasons. First of all, I love the idea of taking online community off-line into the "real" world. What an interesting way to connect with strangers who share at least one common bond (reading the same blog). The concept is fairly simple: Create a batch of handmade postcards using your medium of choice, mail them out to the 11 people on your list, and receive 11 little works of art in return.

The second reason I was excited about this is that I needed an art project to jump start me. I've mentioned before that I started dabbling with watercolours earlier this summer. I'm sad to say that I've only painted once since the class ended over a month ago. I want to paint and try new art forms (at this point, most art forms are new to me), but I never seem to get around to it.

I think about it a lot. But it just seems like such a hassle. I have to work on the dining room table, which means I need to put the kits in an upstairs bedroom, otherwise they'd be covered in paint and glitter . (Okay, I don't actually have glitter. Should I get glitter?) I tell myself that it'd be so much easier to paint and create if I had an art station in my office. That way I could make a mess and not clean it up if I didn't finish a project in one sitting. "If only I had a studio," I tell myself, "I'd create more."

But the real truth of the matter is that I'm scared. When I first started painting, I had no visions in my head of what I wanted to do. But very quickly -- surprisingly quickly, in fact -- I started to have ideas and inklings about what I'd like to see happen on the page. But I'm new. So new that I often don't have a clue about how to achieve my vision. I don't even know what materials to use. Heck, I don't even know what materials are available. I'm pretty sure that some of my visions aren't suited to watercolour, but I don't know what I need.

All I know is that I'm supposed to mail out 11 hand-made postcards in two weeks. And I don't want the recipients to be disappointed. As I fretted over this a few nights ago, a poem came to me, just a few lines long, but perfect and complete. I haven't written poetry in years and was surprised by its appearance. I'm taking it as a gift that I can use to anchor my vision for the postcard. At least I have a starting point now.

I'll share it -- and the postcards -- with you after everything is mailed out. In the meantime, tell me, how do you get your own artist to come out and play?

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add to kirtsy | 9:44 PM


Anonymous Melissa said...

I think the key word for me is PLAY. Much of the time, I have to remind myself to "just play" . . . to not be concerned if I really have a purpose or goal, to not compare myself and my abilities to everyone else (like all the creative and amazingly talented bloggers out there!), and to just enjoy the relaxation it brings and the simple satisfaction of making something with my hands. Violet and Phoebe live in my head, too, and I understand the dialogue that goes on . . . ! Glad that inspiration struck with the postcard project . . . can't wait to see them !

8/19/2007 7:15 PM  
Anonymous Lisa said...

I tend to need a change of scenery in order to allow my creative self to emerge. It seems that when I'm at home, it's too easy to get distracted by other things - laundry, phone calls, TV, food, the cats, a NAP (one of my favorite distractions!), - and there is a different energy at our house than elsewhere in the world. So...I pack up my stuff and head out - to the woods, to a coffee shop, to a friend's house (although much less often than I'd prefer, unfortunately), to a book store or library, etc. This is easier to do when the task is writing rather than painting, perhaps, but the key it to shift the energy of the place.

I, too, tend to think I need that perfect studio space in order to create great masterpieces. I'm eternally envious of other bloggers who seem to have this space for themselves, but with an entire house and just two people and two cats, I haven't taken the opportunity to make my own "studio". My art gets created on a card table that is set up in front of our picture window in the living room! A bed sheet covers the table when it's not in use to keep the cat hairs away :-0

Your story of Violet and Phoebe very much echoes the inner dialogue with which I struggle, too. Here's to wishing we lived closer to each other so we could share our creative spaces and encourage one another towards beautiful works of art :-)

Can't wait to see your postcards and poetry!

8/21/2007 7:30 AM  
Blogger jen lemen said...

yay for you!

you should see if you can draw violet and phoebe, even if they are stick figures. :)

i love that you are doing this and can't wait to see what emerges. and i agree--play is the thing!

8/23/2007 12:06 PM  
Anonymous laurie from sk*rt said...

there is nothing easy about "choosing" a career in creativity. nothing. the way i jump start myself when i'm feeling particularly un-fun is to challenge myself to do the thing i would do if there were no client on the other end of my project (even on creative projects that have no client -- like painting a table for my guest room). how crazy cool would i make it? then go for it. with these postcards, you have no client, per se, but you are already thinking of the recipients and whether they might be disappointed. forget about the recipients. tell violet to go run a boring errand. then you and phoebe get to work and have fun!

8/23/2007 1:31 PM  

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