Not what a good writer does.

It has been a contemplative week for me. I spent the week delving into the creative things I found that piqued my interest, while deliberately not posting anything to social media because something in me was craving alone time. It can be a strange thing, social media. Every post is a mini-performance. It’s like putting on a little show every time you share. And that’s lovely. But your whole life — my whole life — can’t be a constant performance for other people. There has to be a rich and interesting ‘behind-the-scenes’, too. And I had gotten to a destructive mental place where everything I was reading or doing or working on, I was thinking in the back of my mind, ‘should I share this?’ ‘how about this?’ ‘is this important to give the people?’ ‘is this good for them?’

And with all that mental chatter going on, I wasn’t able to take anything in, for myself. I couldn’t process it, chew on it, digest it, all on my own for my own growth and pleasure. That was a red flag for me that something was unhealthy. It is such an important thing to be able to have a clear mind and a wide open space inside where you can run free. A silence all your own. To be with the Presence. The All of Creation. The soft, soft beating of my own heart, wandering wild and free. and alone. and together with The Mysterious Everything.

So this week as I pulled away from the world and into myself, I was still writing, in fact, I wrote more this past week than I had in months and it felt GORGEOUS.  I could hear my own voice again. So I come to you after a week in creative solitude to offer you this little collection of things that inspired me over the past few days. They run quite the creative gamut, and there are two ways of thinking about that. One is that I’m just a scatterbrain. The other is that in a joyful creative life, you don’t hold yourself back, and you don’t box yourself in, and you can grow in every direction you feel like as long as it feels delicious.

How about let’s go with the latter, it sounds so much more fun, yeah? 🙂

So. Here are 4 things I couldn’t wait to share with you, and 2 bonus things that involve purple wildflowers because I want you to feel beautiful, vibrant, and adored because you so are.

(1) I’m wild for the art of self-portraiture right now. It is HARD to do. But when I get an image I like, it feels really good to remember that we are all beautiful, and we are all flawed, and we all have the right to explore our own precious bodies in ways that feel holy, intimate, and healthy. Here is one of my own self-portraits, along with a little riff I wrote about writing big unwieldy things, and not sharing them yet, and painting my hair ocean blue.  Also, here are three self-portrait artists who are insanely talented and have inspired me to give it a try more often: @luna.res @brookeshaden @katieteix 

(2) “Live first. Then you write. You don’t ‘live to write.’ That doesn’t make any sense. That’s not what any good writer does.” — this is some righteous, straight-forward advice from a strong and mighty writer named Rita Dove, who is the next poetry editor for The New York Times. Here is a great article about her and what she believes poetry might grant unsuspecting news readers. The Times will run poetry right alongside their regular news stories. Poetry in a new kind of spotlight? I’m intrigued… (Here is Rita Dove’s poem Testimonial. “I gave my promise to the world / And the world followed me here.”)

(3) Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED talk about the danger of a single story is incredibly thoughtful, empowering, and inspiring. If you ever fear telling your own story – scars and scabs and all – through your art, this talk is a must watch / listen to. It is no secret that we are living in dynamic and sometimes down right frightening global times, and in my heart of hearts I truly believe that it will be the artists who tell their own stories with kindness and conviction, and the ones with the courage to really listen to them, who will make our world a safer place for humanity and this precious planet we share.

(4) “If I were your writing coach, my first goal would be to encourage your sense of self. I know you have one. I’d coax it out.” — Kris Gage in her article How To Be A Writer. I adore this gal’s style. She slings drinks and she does not play when it comes to writing advice. (or life advice, for that matter. which I suppose is quite truly the same thing.)

Which all brings us to the 2 bonus things I promised you this week, in all of your magical creative glow.

Thing #1. A lovely flatbed of wildflowers under a dreamy spring cloud sky. I took this photo while out with my husband antiquing, flea marketing, flower collecting, and looking for the perfect farmhouse to pretend we can afford. Because writers take breaks from writing, too. And we know that a huge part of writing is to live with eyes and arms and hearts wide open. We are sky and earth, and night and day. and rain and sun, and we bloom in our own time, in our own seasons, and it’s beautiful to be us.

Thing #2. A little drawing I made in my journal to represent feelings that I had no real words to describe. I wrote a thing about it here. Which is mainly to say, that whatever you are working on, dear creative friend, it is lovely.  Whatever it is, just as it is, it is a beautiful imperfect gift. And you? You are nothing but miraculous shine.

Until next time, I’m sending you love like wildflowers, and joy like a little witch girl figure whose legs for some inexplicable reason don’t connect to her tiny triangle body,

Allison Marie

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