Writing Gives You Wings

You’ve seen the memes all over the Internet, I know. They tell you we’re a weird bunch. Weird, unstable, emotional, eccentric, crazy even. It’s a cultural cliché that in order to be a writer, you must be a bohemian, jobless, penniless, loner who, at times, indulges in a good-sized dose of narcissism balanced by self-deprecation. Sounds fun, doesn’t it? The thing is, that's not exactly what it's about. And those aren't necessarily the characteristics that make a writer a writer. The thing is: being a writer is hard. It’s really hard. Actually, it’s really, really, really hard. Not just because the craft of writing is challenging, but because of what is required for the craft to come to fruition. Not to mention the thick skin required to withstand frequent rejection. At the Tucson Festival of Books this year, I had the opportunity to hear Alice Hoffman speak during a Young Adult Fiction panel. Near the end of the session, a mother from the crowd stood...
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The Studio of Frank Gonzales

In the heart of Tempe, Arizona, amongst the hurried activity of the nearby university, artist Frank Gonzales makes his home on a quiet street, where his studio provides a sanctuary for creative work. Knowing that environment is important and can impact creative work, he peppers his studio with important items that bring inspiration. Alongside the tubes of paint and jars of paint mixtures, his primary easel sits, facing the window overlooking his sleepy front yard. A terrarium of carnivorous plants sits on the table across from his easel, next to a wide bookcase filled with art and plant books, magazines, and supplies. One of his cats lazily sleeps under another table covered with newly finished works nearly ready to be sent to one of his galleries. Botany and ornithology inform his works; bright, playful paintings that reveal the type of personality that each creature exudes. Most of his pairings are unusual—not necessarily the elements of natural habitat or examples of symbiotic relationships in...
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The Space of the Unknown

The process of creation happens in the present moment. Michelangelo said of his journey as an artist:  “Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” Alchemists knew this process well—the act of fashioning “something” from “nothing.” Solve et coagula, that is, "dissolve and coagulate" meaning nothing new can be built before we break the old and we make space. Before a project is revealed, the artist may not (and most likely doesn’t) know what the final work will be.  The artist may have a vague idea about theme, or character, or scene, or tune, but the work reveals itself during the process of creation. It doesn’t happen during a planning phase or a crafting session. The artist, the writer is a channel—one who is willing to go into the space of the unknown, into the space of uncertainty, and be present in that space long enough for the work to reveal...
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Frankly Explicable: A Conversation with Mary Burger

The art of poetics begins with the intersection of the visual and the unseen. Word gives way to image, image to thought, thought to inspiration. As communicators, human beings desire to bring value to the exchange—something ambiguous in the visual art world, value. What holds meaning for one may not for another, and what inspires is highly subjective. More than value, we search for meaning. Who are we? To what do we devote attention? On what do we spend our time? The idea of categories amongst thought makes experience easily interpretable. But what of the things that meet and mingle? Where does communication end and poetry begin? How is experience cataloged as “art”? Writer, visual artist, and environmental designer, Mary Burger is interested in cross-genrewriting that merges aspects of poetry, essay, and fiction. Her books include Then Go On (Litmus Press, 2012), a collection of lyric prose pieces, Sonny (Leon Works, 2005), a novella on the Trinity bomb test, and A Partial Handbook for...
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