I’ve never been great at writing. I grew up knowing that I wasn’t quite “getting it” in terms of understanding grammar and sentence structure. I don’t know if I just wasn’t taught these things well or if my brain just doesn’t work like that. But as I have gotten older I have found some work-arounds. I can’t write a formal essay to save my life but I can write from the heart. I want to write what I know and how I feel. I want my words to be a window into my work. So I practice and I write and I try to read more, because it makes you better at writing. (I am also not a great reader!)
There is, however, one thing that I swear by that I used to be a bit ashamed about. An editor. My Mom was my first editor and I was so annoyed that I needed her in this way. That without her, I my grades would suffer or my point would not be made clearly. As I went through school I would ask her to read over my papers. She wasn’t the most generous when it came to critiques but she meant well. My brother then became my editor. He was a little nicer about it. And now John is my editor and the best one yet because he gets what I am trying to say — what I want to say. He understands the feeling behind my words that fumble and end up in the wrong places. As a 30-something I try to let go of all the shame I feel about not being able to write well. It’s hard. But I persist anyway because I really like it. I enjoy putting my thoughts down on paper (or the screen.) I want you to know me and I want you to have a window into my process and my work.
The true value in this I learned while in graduate school, earning my MFA, while I was constructing my thesis. I wanted people to understand my thought process and the meaning of final exhibition. Have you ever looked at a piece of art and thought, ‘Hmm?’ And then you read the description or the artist statement and you think, ‘WOW!’ Words create the space between those two thoughts and so I try.
I read a post this morning by @tjmcgrathdesign on Instagram:
“Sometimes I think all I do is throw shit in a vase. And sometimes it just looks like shit in a vase. But I put it out there anyway, because it’s my shit, in my vase…that’s not ego…that’s courage …put your shit out there the way you want and don’t let anyone tell you how or where you can grow!” And I thought, YES, exactly. That’s how I feel about my writing. Sometimes they are just shit and they look like shit, but it’s my shit — they are my wobbly words. They are my words and I am going to let them be so maybe they connect us or help you see inside my work or my process. Maybe they will lead us to chat or you can feel inspired or more connected to nature or process or tiny victories. And the more I try, the better I get and the less afraid I am. It’s a beautiful cycle that helps me in my artistic pursuit just as much as it helps me with my writing.