Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Thursday's Children - What Pottery Has to Do with Writing

I had an amazing opportunity this week to help out my youngest son's art teacher with her pottery unit.

Should I have been home finishing my novel? Probably.

Am I a little behind schedule as a result of volunteering for four to six hours a day? Absolutely.

Was it worth it? Without a doubt!

After spending my first four hour shift with about 80ish high schoolers, helping them with various hand building techniques, the teacher gave me about 25 pounds of clay - a beautiful, glorious block of gray clay. She told me to make whatever I wanted and she'd make sure it got fired.

I brought it home and immediately sat down and tried to write. I've got this scene that's been giving me a bit of trouble and I've come at it from every angle I could think of. But as I tried to again sort of that scene, the block of clay kept staring at me from the dining room table...taunting me. Trying to lure me over there with the promise of it's cool, perfect smoothness.

I put up a valiant fight - at least two hours - but it finally won. I gave up on figuring out that scene, closed my laptop and got out my clay tools. It had been so long since I was able to play with clay, I was afraid I wouldn't be able to make anything worth keeping. I ended up making 14 holiday gifts - ornaments, wine glasses, a bowl, candle holders etc.

But an interesting thing happened while I played.  My hands were busy sculpting and shaping and my mind was free to wander. It definitely wandered.While I was turning the clay over and over in my hands my plot was tumbling in my head. After maybe an hour, I knew what the problem was. It seems so obvious now, but I'm not sure I would have come up with it had I stayed at my computer banging my head against the keyboard. I needed some other creative outlet to help shake loose the solutions to a completely unrelated problem.

I'm going back to art class again tomorrow - we've got four class periods at 90 minutes each. It's gonna be a long day. But it'll be worth it. In addition to the creativity sneak attack, I'm also spending time with a ton of high school freshman, sophomores and juniors. Talk about great research! And honestly, great kids - I'm thoroughly enjoying hanging with them.  And as a bonus, I get to spend lunch hour with the teachers for even more research opportunities.  What more could this writer ask for?

Here are a few things I've started on. They're all pretty rough and all need quite a lot of work yet, but I'm excited to see them all glazed and finished. By the way, I was working on the  glasses when the story solution hit me. :)






10 comments:

  1. So cool! And now I'm hankering after the smell of oil paints and linseed oil. (Pottery wasn't my thing, but painting was). Glad you figured out the glitch in your story too :)

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    1. Maybe you can post some story inspired paintings. I've always wanted to be able to paint, but...it's definitely not part of my skill set. :)

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  2. Wow, so fun. I was always awful at sculpting or potting or anything to do with my hands! I think that's why I got into photography––at least that looks vaguely like what I have in my head. Same goes for writing I suppose: painting with words ;-)

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    1. I have to admit, it's not always easy to get the image in my head to match the one in the clay. Come to think of it, it's not always easy with words either...but totally worth any struggle. :)

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  3. Loving the goblets, lol. Imagine making a toast with those over the holidays!

    I really like the term you used, "creativity sneak attack". That's fantastic. I had one of those today, on a smaller scale. They're great when they happen. And it's awesome that you've found the right context to "mold" your ideas.

    Heh heh.

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    1. I actually heard a "rim shot" in my head when I got to the line about molding the ideas - well done! :D

      BTW, you should see our wedding goblets - giant pewter dragons coiled around the stem and the base of the cups. Definitely a conversation starter. :)

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  4. Hopping over from the Thursday's Children blog hop. Glad to hear you solved the problem - walking the dog always does it for me. :)
    Kat
    http://beyondthehourglassbridge.blogspot.com.au

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    1. Hi Kat! :)

      I think there's something about being on automatic pilot, so to speak, that frees up the brain to make connections you might have otherwise missed. The trick is allowing myself to walk away from the keyboard long enough to allow them to happen. And sadly cats think going for a walk is a terrible idea. ;)

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  5. I loved your story!! Completely relatable and inspiring.
    You definitely have artist brain.lol
    The goblets and bowl are turning out awesome. I can't wait to see all of your finished pieces.

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