It is no secret that I love a good yearly theme. I’ve said that before, but it bears repeating. My themes usually just apply to my reading for that year, but have now morphed into all aspects of life.
2016 was the year of feminism.
2017 was the year of diversity.
2018 was the year of beauty.
Confession: the theme of beauty was a tragic bust. I had the best-laid plans to read gorgeous and flowery novels while sitting on a peaceful riverbank and admiring the sunset/sunrise/nature/birdsong/fireflies… It sounds tranquil and easy on the heart; the daily experience equivalent of a Zen garden. This particular kind of beauty, this ultimate and peaceful beauty, never happened though. Beautiful things did happen, yes of course; just not in any huge, overbearing way. Beauty did not hit me over the head with its loveliness; beauty did not rip me a new one.
I read some pretty stuff; I looked at the sunset a lot. That’s really all I did though. If we want to stretch it, I ate well, and I ate a lot; there’s beauty in a good meal. I drank buckets of wine; there’s beauty in tipsy laughter, right? Am I losing you? Come back!
I was outside more than previous years, I hung out with friends more often too, I have such beautiful friends. I laughed and ate and traveled. I freaking danced! I just didn’t write about it … ever.
In October when I sat down to make the post, next to nothing came out. A bunch of paragraphs vaguely describing moments or books that were wonderful at the time, but whose beauty had since faded. As I write this now, I think beauty is perhaps just about that single moment. Maybe I took too many pictures and didn’t absorb experiences. Maybe I was too distracted thinking about the next beautiful thing and wasn’t ever paying attention to the current beautiful thing. Maybe for whole periods of time, I forgot to pay attention at all. I don’t know.
Ultimately, I had a wonderful, beautiful year. I know this; there are fond memories stored away. However, the concept was perhaps too abstract to document. The fleeting nature of it too difficult to recall weeks later. Without clear guidelines for what to look for anyway, I had no focus. Anything can be beautiful, and anything can be ugly; it’s all perspective.
Summing up this year in the paragraphs above makes me a little bitter. I’m quite sad that as a writer, I can’t do better than that. However, it was a lesson in focus, and picking themes with more concrete concept until I get better at the abstract. SO — Lesson learned! Next year I have a focus and it’s concrete. It is also interactive; there will be lots to write about, and I will write as I go! The theme for 2019 is … CREATIVITY.
The jump to creativity came easily for a few reasons.
Reason One: This blog is a product of my need to create.
Sometimes, I don’t look at blogging as ART or a true creative outlet; it’s something I get hung up on occasionally. I don’t paint, sing, sculpt, or write novels; nothing you can display in the real world. It feels less somehow, this blogging. Writing is still a creative endeavor though. Here, I mostly write about and enjoy others’ creativity. This blog is a love letter to reading, a long love letter. I love all art though. I have a massive adoration for movies, photography, and painting because I cannot do it. I love art museums because I cannot art. Not like that. I do art somewhat, here is this corner of the internet. It’s my small, artistic escape. Here I am allowed to create however I can. There will never be a museum for this blog, but it will still be here and I am still growing my soul by putting my ideas here.
All these pent-up words and ideas in my mind needed somewhere to go. I was explaining the blog recently; trying to articulate how shy I am in person, but how in-your-face I get when I talk literature. It’s difficult to be both. Sometimes passion overcomes my need to hide, but often it does not. In person if you ask about a tattoo I have, I say, “It’s from a book.” On the blog I get to write paragraphs and pages gushing about The Great Gatsby and Dylan Thomas – why I have their ideas inked on me. In person if you ask what I’m reading, I say, “A book of poetry, modern poetry.” Here, I get to talk about passing it to all my friends, and the fact that I hardly read poetry alone! This blog was always supposed to be interactive like that. I never wanted to do straight book reviews, but really show how reading has affected all areas of my life. The Poetry Made Me Do It section is my favorite for that reason. I don’t just say that poetry is inspiring and life-changing. I get to tell you why. My ‘selfie’ post and my ‘happiness basket’ post are real-life interactive ideas I have pulled from the pages of poetry. That’s a review in itself. “This book was so amazing, I changed my behavioral patterns because of it.”
My creative needs are being met; I’m already being creative here in a small way. I already appreciate other forms of art and creativity. So why not just keep on keeping on? Next year, I want to create more. I will try to write more and think of more ways literature can be brought out of the pages and into my life. I always dreamed this blog would be interactive and communal in the way it is, and I’d like that to get bigger too. This brings me to the next reason.
Reason Two: I already have a creative circle of friends. I have a ton of people around me who I admire and want to support and learn from.
I have friends who dance, play instruments, paint, sculpt, blog, crochet, edit, color hair, cook. I have friends who have skills that I never even knew could be a skill. They are insanely crafty and inventive; their minds just create art out of thin air. It’s some kind of special witchcraft to be able to take objects with seemingly no artistic value and make them into something you want to put up in your living room.
I started planning this theme by thinking I’d read something on creativity and then try to do that creative thing; writing about each attempt along the way. My first idea was to read some biographies of famous artists and try to see their work in museums. I also, pretty immediately thought I should read Big Magic, On Writing, and Bird by Bird; all books on the creative process of writing and creativity in general. I would definitely try to incorporate tips from these books into my writing and blog about that. I’d read novels like The Woman Upstairs and The Interestings, both of which have main characters who are artists. Maybe I’d read a book where the main character is a sculptor and then take a pottery class. Could probably get away with reading a food memoir and then take a cooking class.
Then it dawned on me that there’s no reason to learn just from books when I have friends who can also teach. The idea of reading a book on some form of art and then trying to do that art morphed into using my friends in place of books! I could try their creative things. Now I’m thinking of photography with my photog friends. I’ll show off my photos of a photo shoot next to theirs. It could be very amusing to see the poor quality in lighting, composition, and set up in my photo next to a friend’s professional one. Likewise, I could attempt to crochet a sock with my amazing friend Megan and accidentally end up with a hat for a bird. I don’t think I’ll be awful at everything I try, but I certainly think my friends make it look easier than it is. I am surrounded by talent.
*This is a subject I will write on later, but I am part of a small band of artists who are all just starting out. Every person in this group has a different talent and passion. I hope to learn from all of them this year and use my blog to show off some of their work. Look for me to dance, crochet, model, film, edit, smell coffee, cross-stitch, and paint this year. Get ready to laugh at me and be awed by the talent of my friends. Examples below 🙂
I am so looking forward to 2019 and to broadening my creative horizon: learning about artists and their crafts of all kinds, and then subsequently trying many of them. Reading has always been a time for learning and self-exploration; the biographies and how-to books will greatly aid in my learning. However, I think I am especially lucky to have a group of friends who are so talented and inspiring. I am looking forward to learning from them most of all. Reader, they will shock you. Stay tuned.