Because I’m also a visual artist – see that not-so-traditional hooked rug in the masthead above? – I’ve been tasked by my local artists’ group to come up with my “artist’s statement.” It’s a kind of mission proclamation as to what and where my art is today, at this moment. One of the first things they told us to consider as we craft these “declarations” is the tools we use to make our art. This got me thinking about the tools that I – or anyone else – uses as a writer. And might I have a favorite?
The first thing that comes to mind is paper. I know, many of you write on your laptops. Me, I prefer to start the old-fashioned way, on paper with a pencil. Don’t ask about the pencil, since I always let myself make all kinds of errors and false starts when writing the first draft of a story or essay. Maybe it goes back to grade school and the safety net of an eraser. (!??!)
Perhaps that’s all one needs to start writing. But I thought more about it. What other implements do I use? There are the myriad of resource books I keep on my office shelves, certainly. In fact, I just got a new one recommended to amateurs and pros alike. Maybe you have it; it’s called Woe Is I: The Grammarphobe’s Guide to Better English in Plain English by Patricia T. O’Conner (find it at http://www.amazon.com/Woe-Is-Grammarphobes-Better-English/dp/0399141960). Let me know what you think of it.
See how I included that link? There’s another tool, the Internet, especially Google and Wikipedia (just be careful there!). It’s great that I can so easily click open a window or two when I have a research question be it about rug hooking or the Sahara Desert or chicken piri piri. I must admit, though, that my favorite site is probably the Urban Dictionary (http://www.urbandictionary.com). I learn a lot of new words and phrases there. It drives my teenager nuts.
Lastly, I guess my tools necessarily include myself. Usually, I’m writing about something I know because I’ve experienced it in some capacity. Or it’s something I want to know more about. Either way, it’s coming from somewhere deep inside my brain and/or heart. And when I’m stumped as to what I want to write about (writer’s block, anyone?), I head to my journals. In those little, black books I find plenty of stuff to work with – fictively or not. Sometimes it’s something I’ve read or overheard (and stolen) or it might be an insight completely of my own making(!).
I suppose if I have to pick a favorite writing tool, it’s the journals. The trip down memory lane can be amusing or fascinating or depressing or empowering or any number of adjectives. But it’s always colorful (like my rugs!) and invariably provides me with fodder for writing. I leave you now with a prompt pulled from my own pages. Enjoy!
“My toenails have eyes and they can see.” (spoken by Lily Kyle)