Let me start with a disclaimer.
As a feminist who came of age in the mid-seventies, there came a point in time when the words, “telling a story” and “making voices heard” were so overused as shorthand for the empowerment process that they made me want to wretch. Even now, it is with some hesitation that I employ the phrases. If you share this particular repulsion, however slight, forgive me.
Some of my favorite bloggers are storytellers. Look at Jude Hill and how her cloths, imbued with weather, energy, and love, have so many personalities on the surface — planets and trees with eyes and mysterious and playful creatures almost begging to tell their secrets to onlookers. Here’s a recent example:
Or, go to Kari, of Writing Up a Storm, and see how a few chips of paper can lead her into the most wonderfully imaginative narratives. Watch how effortlessly she follows her creations into their worlds, instead of ‘authoring’ them.
Similarly, Denise Kester, mono print artist extraordinaire, allows her medium to lead her to the most fleshed-out animals and people, all brimming with personality and many assuming mythic stature. Not unlike the primitive sculptors who let the stone speak to them before chiseling a single mark, Denise starts with abstract swipes of ink on her plate and then LOOKS to see what is there. She shares this remarkable process here — Oregon TV profile.
Because of these and other artists, I have been asking myself — How do I, me, Dee Mallon, tell a story? And what is it?
And the answer is, I don’t know. I have always had an impressionistic approach — an image here, a snapshot there. As a writer, I have NEVER known what it is I’m going to say until it is written — even academically. Outlining has always seemed admirable and alien. I just can’t. I can’t even IMAGINE planning in that way because my mind doesn’t work that way. Just like I can’t (so it seems) keep a neat house. And now a digression.
When I walk into a truly neat house, especially if it is also livable and inviting, I feel a little anthropological in my appreciation. My eyes wander about, I smile and accept coffee, while my mind reels: “WOW!! HEY, you mean there are people, real live people, people that I know even, who can DO this?!!! How? Day in and day out?! HOW? AND they have kids, too?!!! DO kids, in fact, live here?!! Where is the evidence?!! Could I maybe convince myself that this is an unhealthy place for a child?! Oh — forget that! Let’s go to weekly help, instead — exactly how much outside help is exerting an influence here, and how would that influence impact my household were it available? Do they have 10 more closets than I do? Why do I trip over six to ten pairs of sneakers and shoes (that would be 12 to 20 shoes) getting from the side door to the kitchen (and, truth be told, half of them are mine)? Does their husband help pick up more than mine does? What? How? How?
Then, moving on, hopefully, to something else, I generally conclude that it is simply the case that we come from different planets. It is the one conclusion that lets me drop it, believe it or not, without judgment flowing in either direction.
I want to populate my quilts with stories. (Some kind’ve, sort’ve do now, but….)
And, I don’t know how.