For the past few days I’ve been surrounded by piles of sketchbooks that contain all of the source material for my work.
For most of my life, I didn’t know why I kept sketchbooks, only that when I documented life as it was happening around me, I found a sense of equilibrium and solidity of being that I found in no other way.
So I kept doing it. Keeping sketchbooks. Sometimes I thought that it didn’t matter, that I had nothing to say, that it seemed to serve no purpose except to create a lot of heavy boxes of sketchbooks that accumulate over the years, decades, lifetime. When I didn’t create this way, I lost my equilibrium and my sense of direction.
Gradually, I begin to see that my sketchbooks, and all that they contained, were my work.
The artifacts themselves; as well as a lot of the content; and most importantly: the process for working. It’s all in the sketchbooks.
Right now I’m slowly scanning and photographing them so that I can publish more of the content. I had originally planned to delegate this to an assistant, and it would make more sense from a time management perspective. But the raw pages of the sketchbooks feel too personal to show someone I’m not emotionally close to.
We’ll see. With so many more to go and so much still on my to do list before I move abroad on Friday, I may break down and ask trusted friends if they want to help me with the scanning.
Thomas Moore, in his books Care of the Soul and Soul Mates, talks about how to nurture a more soulful connection to life. This isn’t, paradoxically, found in the peaks of spiritual experiences, alone on the mountaintop, but in the particulars of wrestling with everyday details.
Moore writes, “the soul loves the vernacular—the particular place, family, friends and neighborhood that are part of our daily lives.”
In my workshops, I love to share quotes and poems to spark the imagination, to illustrate a point much better than I can by way of explanation. A sturdy quote can illuminate hard-to-reach places in our minds, where logic rules.
A great use of quotes is to turn them into writing prompts.
The following quote arose from the pile of sketchbook flotsam on my work tables, at the same time I received an email from a student in Creative + Practice about her main take away.
“In life, there are no ordinary moments. Most of us never really recognize the most significant moments of our lives when they’re happening.”
– Kathleen Magee (quoted in Be by Kobi Yamada)
“Thank you, thank you for Creative + Practice!
My very favorite take-away is your statement that, “I don’t believe there’s anything like so-called mundane life. I think everything is interesting.”
BAM! Suddenly, even bookkeeping – making a cool containing space in my journal for receipts, and figuring out what will be the most exciting way to keep track of income & expenses this brand new year – becomes a fabulous creative endeavor. WHO FREAKIN’ KNEW?!?!”
– Tamara Holland
It’s a three-way synchronicity between what I’m learning + something that surfaced “randomly” + student feedback. I love it when this happens, don’t you?
Creative + Practice is an online course I created to help people develop creative habits.
Creative habits are what we need to sustain projects from start to finish, and manage the ups, downs and detours along the way.
It’s my own creative practice that got me here.
I share everything I know to help you fear less, and create more.