I realized that there are three paths of creative expression on my blog: my needlework, my photography and my writing, and that they were all leading to the same place.
And that place centered around my desire to Tell a Story.
Last July, Maura sent me a link to this interview with author Marion Roach Smith on NPR titled 'Memoir Project': Tips for Telling Your Story...
Once I saw the title I realized something Maura had already known. I was using my blog as a vehicle for telling my story.
It sounds fairly obvious, I know, since isn't that what most people use their blogs for? Please don't think me stupid but I had never intended for my blog to be the vehicle for story. It just kind of evolved that way.
Did you have an intention for your blog when you first started it? Is it the same today?
When I first started this blog, I thought I would use it as an entree to the online needlework community, seeking like-minded friends with a love for all things needle.
A place to share my needlework with others and likewise, see theirs...I don't think my original intent went much beyond the idea of sharing and needlework...
It wasn't long after I started blogging that I connected with Robin Atkins and started the Bead Journal Project. Thanks to Robin's approach, I began expressing small bits of myself and my life with beads, needle and thread. I surprised even myself. I had never realized I had a unique, creative voice...and that it had something to say.
After the Bead Journal Project, all my work started to have a purpose and a connection to my self, my life experiences or to the people I love. And the story behind the creation of my needlework, became equally as important as the finished pieces themselves. Maybe even more so.
For me, the creative process moved beyond the physical generation of needlework...beyond the accomplishment of a finished piece or task...to the expression of the intentions and daily revelations I experienced while making the pieces.
And it was the desire to better convey the emotional experiences of my work which led me to seek better ways to capture and express my feelings both visually and verbally.
That led me smack dab in the middle of the vast world of photography, trying to better convey my story through the photographs I was taking for my blog. Though I've made some improvements, I am still really a neophyte in the photography world.
And now, I find myself a bit of a neophyte in the vast world of writing as well...
So...while my stuffing was soaking up the gravy from my turkey, my brain was soaking up all the tips and advice for writing memoir in Marion Roach Smith's short, 100-page book, The Memoir Project: A Thoroughly Non-Standardized Text for Writing & Life.
Sooo much more goes into writing well than I admit to considering before writing my blog posts...
Which words to choose? Which details to include and which to leave out? What angle to take? How can I boil down all the thousands of thoughts and feelings that are jamming up my mind into something expressive yet...simple.
How can I better convey those routine moments of my one, divine life that feel so important to me? How do I tell my story...better?
It seems overwhelming.
And yet, I know that the struggle to best illustrate my life...through my needle, through my photography and through my words...is the best teacher of all.
Because it's the struggle of self-expression, of deciding how to tell my story, that teaches me who I am.
And maybe I'm not the only one? Perhaps there are many of you reading this post today who have struggled similarly in expressing yourself through your own blog.
Well. Marion Roach gives lots of great tips for writing about your life. Not only is her book a very quick read but I happen to think that it translates to telling story through needlework as well.
She gives 3 basic guidelines to writing memoir:
- Writing memoir is about telling the truth.
- Every page must drive one single story forward.
- Just because something happens doesn't make it interesting.
She then goes onto to give writing and editing advice...and I honestly believe that it is all translatable to telling a story through needle and thread.
What is the story that the piece of needlework is trying to tell? Do all the elements on the piece contribute to moving the story forward? Just because you have a beautiful button or ribbon or thread, doesn't mean that it belongs in the design...etc...
Over the next few months, I plan to further explore the idea of telling story through needlework...and to further explore the nuances of sharing that story through photography and memoir.
In the meantime, if you're interested in learning more about writing memoir, Marion has a website here, a blog here and you can find her book here, The Memoir Project: A Thoroughly Non-Standardized Text for Writing & Life.
And should you think that for some reason your life isn't worth writing about? Well, that's just not true. Everyone has a story. And I, for one, find your unique point of view very interesting.
It's why I read blogs.
See you next time.
From Marion Roach Smith's Memoir Project:
"Learn to value the reader, whose hunger for truth is enormous and whose thirst for understanding this life is unquenchable."
"It's in the small moments that life is really lived."
"A blog post is not about stuffing in as much as you can; rather, it's about illustrating something correctly."
"Learn to write with intent and you might learn something about life."
"Scenes from real life fade fast, losing blood and paling, and your job is to jump on the damn thing, with those wild, electrified ping-pong paddles in hand and jolt it back to life before it goes blue."