On Wednesday I attended a writing lecture and workshop called Pen, Brush and Sword. It was led by Judith Guest, Minnesota author of Ordinary People among other works, and Rebecca Hill, co-author of Killing Time in St. Cloud with Ms. Guest, and now a resident of my little community.
It was a beginning workshop, with a simple writing exercise, but that was fine for what I wanted: a break from the isolation of writing. Three hours spent in a small theater space with twenty other writers was a little slice of heaven.
But there was an unexpected bonus. The focus of the workshop was how creativity is so often about making parts and then fitting them together. To facilitate the discussion Ms. Guest and Ms. Hill brought in examples of art other than writing, weaving together the metaphorical threads that run through all creative endeavors.
In addition to writing, Ms. Hill paints in both watercolor and oils (the “Brush” in the title of their presentation), and she practices the art of Ikebana. She demonstrated how editing is like the paring away of unnecessary elements in the spare design of Japanese floral design. She also showed many parallels between painting and writing, including the ideas of layering, following the backbone of a piece, juxtaposition and conflict.
Then fiber artist Gwen Hatchette came in and talked about how she works with fabric – sewing and stitching, blending and layering, cutting and recombining, fusing and embellishing with beads, cording, and other elements. Check out pictures of her amazing artistry here.
So I walked away re-energized and with a fresh appreciation of writing as art.
Here are some other takeaways, some metaphorical and some literal, that apply to so many mediums.
- Break up the line.
- Don’t lose your “darks”.
- Don’t muddy your colors. Keep your clarity.
- Add what you know needs to be added.
- Pare away the unnecessary.
- Make sure there is enough “pop”.
- Show up. Stay with it. Things happen when you do that.