Thursday, January 19, 2012

My Creative Story

I am writing this for Kim Klassen's Beyond Layers course. When I signed up for this year long class, I promised myself I would not half-ass it and do my best with it. I promised myself I would do all the assignments. And the first assignment came and it was to write your 'creative story'. I have to admit, my first reaction was 'what?' . . . I mean, what good would that do? How was that going to help at all? What would it mean? Plus, deep down,  I did not want to do that . . .I felt like it was a bit goofy: 'We all have stories to tell and blah, blah, blah' ... no, I really don't  . . . at least, not about this .. . not about myself.

So I thought, 'well, this is optional . . . Kim said . .. everything is optional. I can skip this part and just do the photography part'. But here I am at the first assignment and already I don't want to do it. That is not good. Then I realized that Kim is right . . . writing down what we think about our creative selves or why we are here in this class and what compels us to pursue creativity does matter and it can bring some clarity as well as some purpose. And so what if it feels goofy ? So here goes:

I wanted to be be a writer .. . a novelist, to be specific . .. when I grew up. I wanted that ever since I was in junior high school and realized that I actually had to pretend to hate the books that we read in English class and grumble about the assignments with all the other junior high students, so I wouldn't be considered even more of a nerd than I already was.

From that realization and decision about what I really loved, I went with it. I was going to be an English major in college; I was going to be a writer. I never told anyone. I only told my journal. I continued to grumble about English assignments--hoping that in some small way, I, this scrawny, awkward, too-young-looking, underdeveloped and terribly unpopular girl could at least be able to be  a tiny bit cool if I hated writing and hated reading  . . . and if I acted a bit dumb in school in general.

So long story short, I did go to college for English/Journalism. I did well enough. I wrote. I got a lot of good feedback and I got a lot of bad feedback. I went to graduate school to get a Masters in Creative Writing. I wrote some decent stuff there. I never tried to publish anything, but I think there were a few pieces that were publishable. I wrote my thesis. I got my degree. I earned it, but I got discouraged . . . particularly by one professor. She was a great writer but not a very nice person. I was young. I felt beaten up and humiliated and  like I had nothing interesting to say anymore. I felt unworthy of being a writer, too. After all, I was not depressed or an alcoholic; I was not poor. I had had a relatively easy suburban, middle class upbringing. I was just not what writers were made of. I quit writing. I abandoned my creative side. I decided I was stupid to ever have been an English major. And I thought I should have pursued hard sciences or finance. It is more practical. I got really into finance; I read all sorts of investment and financial planning books; I started taking classes in accounting.

Then I looked for work. I got a regular, well paying job in a large corporation . . . it was a tech writing job; something I could do with my background. I worked hard . . . all sorts of hours; excelled and I was happy. It was (and is) a good job. No-one can argue with that. But something was missing. I was working. I was making money. I was making A LOT of money for someone who came out of graduate school (an English major to boot) and was used to living on less that $10,000 a year. I was even able to continue taking accounting classes through work . . . free. But it was not enough.

But I did have to admit, I didn't really feel a lot like writing. Then I met an interesting colleague at work. She was a triathlete, a professional . . . and a stained glass artist. I asked her to teach me how to do stained glass and she did. It was really fun and I discovered how fun crafty-type arts are to do. I started designing my own pieces and cutting glass . . . a lot. I spent most of my weekends doing this, but I only ever gave items away as gifts or kept them for myself.

I stopped doing the glass work after I had my kids. The chemicals and lead just were not good for me or the kids. I got into beading and jewelry making for a while. I loved that as well because, though, quite easy and not necessarily an art when you are just stringing together beads or doing basic wire work, it is pretty creative from a design perspective. Again, I gave a lot away. My sister and sister-in-laws still wear a lot of the pieces.

Then one day, my husband and I were talking about upgrading our camera. We had an old and now slow point and shoot camera that we bought about 4 months after my son (my first child) was born. At that time, it was a good camera. I took a lot of pictures of the kids with it, but always, all on full auto. We went from the idea of upgrading to a better point and shoot to getting an actual SLR camera. I had no idea what an SLR even was. Single Lens Reflex? Okay? Eventually my husband settled on a Canon Rebel Xsi. When we first got it, I had no idea what to do with it. I got him some photography lessons and thought I'd just not bother. But from that class, he brought home some books on digital photography. I read those and something 'clicked' . . . I don't know what .. . I was even hung up on the fact that the photos were coming out not with everything in perfect focus, but now I was getting it. I devoured the books and started playing around with the camera more and more and soon, the camera became mine.

From there I had a new hobby . . . it continues today. It is maybe a bit more than a hobby at this point--and I toy with the idea of making it even more someday; can I do it? Is it even possible? No matter what it can be, for now, it is a creative outlet and it fits me . . . more than anything else I have tried; I like it because it does communicate and it does connect with people, but it is not that hard .. . not as hard as writing. It is what I want to do and I plan to stick to it and continue to learn. This year, I want to try to stretch; to think more about my approach to subjects . . . even if I continue to do the same thing over and over. I want to be more deliberate about it all.


  1. Hi Bonnie ... I found it very hard to begin writing my story, as well, and very nearly chickened out completely. I was glad I did it, though, and it has started me thinking I might dig out the 13 chapters of a book I started about 10 years ago and have another go.
    I like your writing style, it flows very easily and logically ... perhaps you will try again one of these days?

    1. Thank you so much for reading this. Perhaps I will try again someday and I hope you do as well. For now, I am fairly content with the photography thing because it is not quite as intense as writing, but I never want to rule anything out!

  2. Cool, you go girl! I had the very same thoughts as you did. I still haven't written much about my story. Maybe tonight.

  3. Hi Bonnie
    I had the same thoughts about writing the creative me bit. BUT, I also thought if I feel uncomfortable to do it, BEST I do it.
    I enjoyed readying your story, and looking at the lovely images as well!


  4. You did have a story! And it's a good one too. Good luck with the course, I'm doing it too and like you, I've promised myself not to 'half ass it'. Funny, your story is very much like mine, I always wanted to be a writer but ended up doing clerical work :(