Trying on Something New

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Another example of how I view myself as being ‘different’ from most women, is that I’m not a shopper. I’d rather wash my truck, clean my saddle, or scrub the bathtub than go into a store, search through racks, spend time in the dressing rooms, only to return nearly everything to the attendant because it doesn’t fit. (I’ve written a short story about one of my ventures into consumerism that should be posted on my web site soon.) And if it does hang just right on my rather out-of-proportion frame, I then look at the tag. I never try on anything that is polyester (because it is made from petroleum), or needs to be dry cleaned or ironed, or made in a country where they still exploit child labor and workers in factories earn a wage of $.50 an hour. So, you can imagine that I don’t spend much time in stores. However, even someone like me occasionally needs new underwear or a pair of shoes or a shirt that isn’t stained or faded or stretched out.

Have I mentioned that I completed my fifth manuscript? And my typist has finished the last spiral! The title of this one is Of Art and Air. The hero, Ethan, works for the FBI and uses a legal pad that he fills with sketches of the people he interviews regarding a case. It is the way he captures people, their thoughts and emotions, that helps lead him to the perpetrator. I’m wondering if it is my relationship with this character that pushed me to got to an art supply store and pick up some colored chalk and a sketch pad. I will be the first one to admit that I’m one of those ‘artists’ who can’t draw a straight line with a ruler. Then I thought, “Well, I don’t have to draw straight lines. They can be wavy or curved like a rainbow. Trees don’t have to look like a photograph of a tree. How much definition does the horse’s body need for someone to know that it is a horse?” So, I have the supplies, but have yet to take myself to a park or a coffee shop or even the barn with the chalk and pad to see what comes out.

A few summers ago I had the interest in learning how to play guitar. In grade school through high school, I played the clarinet, bass guitar, oboe, and a couple of other instruments. I love music of all kinds and thought it would be pretty great to sit around a campfire or at a party with my guitar and at least be able to play the cords that are in the song. So, with the assistance of a musician friend of mine, I purchased a used Takamanie acoustic guitar. I bought a couple of books and even took a few lessons from my friend. My practice was sporadic, and anyone who plays guitar knows what happens when the callouses form, and they there is a break, and the callouses have to be reformed. Not exactly comfortable. I still have the guitar. I still want to play.

In my fifth manuscript, the heroine is a photographer. Yes, I like to take pictures, like to view photos taken by others. Though so much is done digitally these days, I would love to take a class and learn how to develop film. The question I’ve asked myself is, will I always want to do what my characters do, be interested in what they like? Or are the characters colored from my preferences? Both characters wear flannel shirts, and I love flannel, though I rarely get the opportunity to wear it since I live in Phoenix. And since I don’t particularly care for shopping or whatever the latest is in fashion, occasionally I like to try on something new.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I believe that every one of us has the ability to create, but not all explore that part of themselves. I write. I love to write all sorts of things. Short stories, poems, novels, grocery lists, lesson plans, classroom assessments, emails, and articles. The push to try sketching with chalk gives me an opportunity to try on something new. Maybe I’ll like what I create, or maybe not. Perhaps it will be more freeing than playing guitar or dancing in my living room or writing. In that case, regardless of the harsh dressing room lights, and even if the chalk is manufactured in China (though I would most likely find an organic alternative), I’ll buy the sketching. I’ll set time aside, take a class, borrow books from the library about how to sketch or on famous artists and read about their techniques. There is nothing that states that once I declare myself a writer, that is all I am or all I can be. I can also be a photographer, a chef of vegetarian casseroles, a sculptor of driftwood. I can wear flannel or silk or sandals or cowboy boots. I can try on something new and purchase a pair of black stilettos.

What are you willing to try on? Even if you’ve only tasted the very tip of a teaspoon of what your creativity can offer you, grab the salt, the oregano, the can of olives. Dash, flavor, or chop something you’re interested in, something you’ve always wanted to try, or, something new. What is there to lose? Afraid of a little judgement from friends and family? Bet they haven’t settled in to the joy you’ve discovered by playing with a new medium, by stretching your creativity in a different way, by coaxing your muse out of hiding with a piece of chocolate covered pizza. Come on, try something new! Let others scrunch their brows as you frolic in self-expression, revel in the art . . . and let them guess what has put the smile on your face. You don’t have to share with them that you tried on something new, and you really liked it. It seems that every time I pick up my pen, I’m trying on something new. A different setting, a character that expresses something that none of the other characters have, an action scene that could only take place between these two particular characters are perhaps what keeps me coming back to the store, to my muse. Want to see the results of these endeavors? Visit my web site  www.myjoyenterprises.com   Leave me a comment about something new that you’ve tried on.

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