Thursday, August 9, 2012

Not "Write," Just a Rough Sketch Right Now

Sketching is meditative for me. I don't always know what is happening in process. I start with a line and shade in shapes until my sketch develops form and depth. I can feel the depth. I run pencil and shading stomp over areas as I follow the contours of my subject. There is always a point where it is not right. It doesn't look right. At that point I will make the smallest mark with my pencil or erase a dark shadow, and suddenly it becomes the subject. It's a satisfying moment. If I stop at any point during the sketch, I hate the drawing and I might be ready to toss it. It takes patience to keep going, to recognize that it will all work out in the end. Sketching is my contemplative art form.

This is not true for me with writing. Writing is hard. I sometimes wrestle with the words as I try to figure out the best way to say what I mean. I am very aware of what I say through every step of the process. I worry about how it will be understood by others. I can't relax with it and let it flow the way drawing lets me. My mind cannot wander. It demands that I pay attention to every punctuation mark. It insists I stay present or suffer the grammatical consequences. This is why I have my family edit my work. I know I won't spot my homophone confusion or mispellings without their help. I still fear the red pen of my school days. I still see it as a mark of failure. It tells me I'm not good enough.

In the early years, homeschooling was similar to writing for me. I was hyper-aware of my critics. I felt I had to constantly prove I had a right to teach my own. Lucky for me, Marina liked to perform. Every subject excited her. I could look like I knew what I was doing. I made my mistakes with her. It is the plight of the first-born. They are the ones we learn to parent with.

Chase and Sierra have specific interests. They are not as open to me meddling in their learning. I had to teach myself to step back and have faith that the learning was happening. Just as it is when I sketch, it isn't always easy to stop in the middle and love what I see. I panic and want to force education onto them. I worry about what others think. And then I take a deep breath and remember that this is a process. I haven't finished this sketch yet.


Kez said...

Wow, so very true!

BTW I retrained myself not to edit as I go by committing to goals where I had to pump out a certain word count each day. I didn't have the luxury of editing as I went - it helped to silence my inner critic!

Inner Elder said...

Thank you for describing your drawing and writing and teaching processes. How aware you are! Your art comes from an inner place, it is an expression of your spirit. Your writing is so deep and so well expressed - now I know why. You put blood, sweat and tears into it. For me, "meditative" writing is when you journal for yourself, and not for others' eyes. Love, Mom

Anonymous said...

It's not the shape of what you write, as much as it is the flavor of your ideas that counts the most to those who read your writings. That at least is how I perceive your literary production. Likewise, in your artwork, I look at the clarity of the message of your plastc art before I look at precision of your drawings. I love it allregardless of how you feel about how you present it all. Love you, Dad

Anonymous said...

I agree with your mom about your writing being deep and well expressed. My son, who is naturally creative and artistic like you, struggled with writing because of perfectionism. I worked with him on letting his thoughts flow without criticizing himself or editing as he goes along. I'm working with myself on the same thing. I shoot myself down before I even properly get my thoughts on paper. :-)

Paula Vince said...

I really like this post. Makes me feel there's something similar in art and writing and other creative pursuits to praying and being a divine conduit.
With writing, I allow myself to do a really dodgy first draft, knowing that I'll be going over and over it, fixing up those things you mentioned.

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