It took me over a quarter of a century to realize I am creative.
My mom’s favorite parenting story to share with quasi-strangers is about how I loved to draw as a child. She tells it in such a way that you would think I grew up to be a world-reknowned artist who showed early signs of a creative destiny. And she laughs hysterically – which, I might add, is NOT a historic replica of her reaction to my love of drawing once upon a time.
I drew non-stop. I used tracing paper to help me practice drawing beluga whales, dolphins, and dragons. Once I got the shapes and proportions down, I’d eventually draw them without artistic aids but I never dared to draw things from my imagination. That is, until, I discovered how to draw ribbons. That’s right. Ribbons. The worlds most boring thing for a kid to draw. I drew them EVERYWHERE. Notebook covers, on top of coloring book pages pre-populated with Disney Princesses, on the pages of my school books, you name it. I also drew them on my matress once.
I know, right. Imagine the horror on the faces of my parents who wouldn’t even dare remove the “do not remove this tag” tag from a pillow. I had desecrated a warranteed matress with my doodles. They were mad, apparently. I don’t remember this incident one bit but it provides my mom with hours of laughter whenever she has the opportunity to tell some poor sap.
Eventually, years later (as a pre-teen), I drew on the wall… but with parental permission this time. And in pencil. I didn’t dare attempt a mural in such a visable space without consent from those who supplied me with rides to basketball practice and money for movies with my friends. It was a decorative celtic cross and a *drum roll* RIBBON flowing across it with my name inside. It was actually pretty damn good and there was no tracing paper involved.
But I was no more than a habitual doodler at that point. The harsh mechanics of basketball and softball, which had soon come to envelope my early teenage life, seemed to leave no place for creative venture. I don’t believe I realized it at that time, but I stopped drawing.
It wasn’t until my parents divorced a few years later and I moved to Montana to live with my older sister that the creative bug bit me again. Just a couple months after I hauled my highschool sophmore butt 1,800 miles away from everything I’d ever known as home, I was involved in a somewhat… horrific… car accident. My thrice broken pelvis forced me to miss a significant chunk of school. Teachers sent work home for me to work on, of course. One teacher though, my art teacher, took a seemingly special interest in my predictament. As it turned out, she went to college just a few miles from my hometown – unbelievably uncanny since the town in Montana we were in was named after an eating utensil and small enough to be left off of most maps. Maybe it was that small world connection or perhaps she just felt bad for the “new girl” who nearly got killed half a country away from her parents. Either way, she sent home some really fun drawing assignments as well as some hand-crafted Chinese watercolor brushes for me to experiment with.
That did it. I went ape shit with the art stuff after that. She was impressed with my journal drawings and gave me tons of encouragement to keep at it. At one point, she even talked to me about an internship doing graphic design work. I thought for sure I’d be the next big thing on the art scene. I worked my tail off. I submitted an original logo design for the town’s bicentennial celebration and won. The art world was my oyster, I thought.
Homesick, I returned to Michigan the next year and finished my senior year at yet another school. I had 3 art classes that year: multimedia design, graphic design, and art seminar. I applied to an art college, attended portfolio day, and eventually got accepted.
But I never went. I ended up going to a tech school in Ohio for a year because I thought it would be awesome to move away from home. It was not awesome. It sucked – hence why it only lasted a year. I came back home (again) and tried to be a fine art and graphic design double major. I fell flat. My creativity was sucked out of me by the dramatic and obnoxious challenges I faced in early adulthood – aka unhealthy relationships.
Over the years, the bug came back and left and returned and left and reappeared and left again, always seeming to time its arrival to follow any sort of grand exodus or shift in my life. Move back home with your parents? Major in fine art and graphic design. Dump a boyfriend (or two or seven)? Write a bunch of crappy poetry. Get a new job that sucks? Draw portraits of people who don’t suck. Graduate from college? Take up jewelry making. Get all angsty and career-clostrophobic working for a company who didn’t value my contribution? Blog it up.
Almost 29 years into this insanely wild ride that is my life and I had never really realized that I was the artsy type, a creative. I had worked a bunch of run of the mill office-type jobs my whole life, earned degrees in political science/economics and alternative energy engineering, and lived to work in a field that revolved around science. Being considered a creative person never once occured to me until, that is, I started my blog.
I love to write. I’ve always loved to write but I enjoyed writing opinion pieces about public policy, energy trends, and technology. Essays and term papers were a proverbial wet dream for me. But it wasn’t until I was charged with choosing what I wanted to write about and writing about it in a way that engaged complete strangers that I realized I was an artist.
I’m not a great writer. I can spell pretty well and my grammar is passable by most critics but my style is lacking and I have no formal, advanced training. I am, although, a storyteller. And that makes for a decent writer in most people’s books. Good, great, or atrocious, I love writing. I love crafting a story in written word. I love diseminating my thoughts and stories and messages onto paper (or screen, as it may be), marking them up, revising like a fiend, and sculpting them into the little pieces of art that pique the minds of readers.
Stories are what connect one human being to another – regardless of time, distance, and circumstance. They connect my experiences to your own. They create context between author and audience. Stories can provide comfort, insight, inspiration or just plain entertainment. Stories are essential to the human experience. And the craft of storytelling intrigues the fuck out of me.
But one thing I struggle with is finishing the story. When my brain is in the midst of crafting story – it feels like every detail, every miniscule component is linked to something else that must be shared. In hopes of furthering the connections the story could fashion or maybe for the sake of enabling the story to live fully and breathe deeply as it does while residing in my head, I just can’t seem to stop. There is no beginning, middle, and end to my storytelling. It seems there is always a “to be continued…” left trailing.