Monday, 23 November 2009

Finding a Voice.




I have only been writing poems since I got my laptop and began to blog. Some are stored in my computer, some in a notebook and some are filed in my Writers' Group folder. In other words they are all over the place.
So, my resolution was to buy a note book and put them all together. I bought one at The Knitting and Stitching Show in Harrogate last week and during this weekend I have written all the poems I can find into the notebook. It really has been an interesting exercise.
To begin with I didn't know I had written so many. When I wrote them out (I wanted them to be in my handwriting) I was astonished to find that some of them I liked very much, some were just alright and some I discarded as being not worthy of inclusion.
Now I want to involve one of my other hobbies and decorate the cover of the notebook. And here the difficulty has arisen. My textile work has been on the back burner for some months as I have concentrated on writing - for my blog, for Writers' Group and for my poetry. Suddenly even my Bernina sewing machine is almost a foreign country.
But one thing has struck me forcibly - and that is that I have to find my own voice. I am sure that this applies to any creative work. Reading through my poetry I am conscious that they are written in my voice. Yes, I have read RS Thomas, Edwin Morgan, Norman MacCaig - and all the other poets who's work I admire. But when all is said and done, it has to be my voice - for good or bad.
And the same thing goes for my textile work. I had developed a style and could carry out the work to my satisfaction and was ready to push forward. Now I find that voice has gone and I am having to begin again. Yes - I admire the work of Jan Beaney and Jean Littlejohn, of Ruth Draper, of Maggie Grey - I love their books and they are a mine of inspiration. But when I sit at the machine, or when I get out threads and materials, it is my voice that has to be heard - and somehow I have to find it again. It is not going to be easy, but then what would be the point of doing it if it were easy.
So here is the naked book for you to see. Sometime soon, when my textile laryngitis has recovered, I will show it to you with the cover decorated. Has anyone out there had this kind of difficulty in any of their creative work? I suppose it is similar to writers' block. But that's another story.

28 comments:

Deborah said...

Somehow I think writer's block is very different than having difficulty finding your voice. Writer's block is a lack of ideas, or the inhibiting presence of fear (pressure), but voice is personal style. I found it very interesting to consider that you can have a 'voice' in other creative pursuits, but it makes perfect sense.

I write fiction and have trouble with it, although others seem to think it's fine. It's mostly, I think, because I'm not speaking in my real voice, which is the one that comes out in the essays I write.

Good luck in re-finding your textile voice!

Rachel Fox said...

It is good to read through your own work and realise which ones you are pleased with and which you are not. Other people will give their opinions but still it is important to try and have your own ideas about it I think.
x

PurestGreen said...

I have often read that it is important to read a lot as well as to write, and to study other artists' work if you are also an artist. But the difficult part is that it is very hard not to be influenced by these other works - how do you know when they stop and you start? That's part of my own struggle anyway. I look forward to seeing your new creations.

willow said...

Blogging has encouraged my poetry writing as well. I'm looking forward to seeing your notebook cover!

Titus said...

Very interesting Weaver. As I only create seriously in one medium (words) I haven't thought about losing your voice in other creative mediums.
I also find the handwriting decision fascinating too. For me, poems are "rough" until they're typed, and it's only then that I start editing properly. I can't write direct to computer, but I can only edit on computer.
Good luck with the cover, best wishes for finding that textile voice soon. Play a bit.

Reader Wil said...

Great post Weaver. Your voice is very important and personal. At this moment I have the feeling that everybody is being very creative, but I am not. I think I am too tired. I need the sun!!

Crafty Green Poet said...

I made my dairy for next year today and I'm stuck at exactly the same point, how to decorate the cover! Mine will be a collage, which I may or may not share on my blog.... Good luck finding the right textile cover for your notebook....

Jane Moxey said...

I do think it's difficult to find your own "voice" with the needlearts. So much of what we do is influenced by those needlewomen who have come before, or by the new "voices" in the needlework field. I'm finding that if I use stitches in a way that I think I have discovered, then it feels original and uniquely mine. I think color choices, for example are very personal and intuitive. You can study under fabulous teachers to get the basics, then the flying solo can be a wonderful journey! Nothing wrong though with being influenced by others, as long as credit is given! Derivative work can be viewed as a learning curve, perhaps! Just do your notebook cover and don't think too much!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I have a massive blockage right now. UGH.... I can't see a picture, write a poem or play any music or make a stitch. I am sitting and stewing. I hope that once the Thanksgiving feast is over I will be able to break out of this confine.

Heather said...

After I had completed both parts of the City and Guilds course (which took 4 years) I couldn't do any 'proper' work for another 12months. It really scared me - I thought of all that money, time and effort which I had invested. But luckily something started me off again, and I think you will be the same. Something will inspire you and you will want to start work. Even if you made a book cover in the style of someone else, it would still have your stamp on it - still be in your voice. Looking forward to seeing it when you feel ready.

Wild Somerset Child said...

I think that in whatever genre we work or play, anyone can feel blocked or on a roll. And it doesn't matter; if it's work, one disciplines oneself to get down to it, no matter what; if it's play, creativity will return. Believe me, I've been there and constantly berate myself until I find myself again and can move on. All the best with your poetry, book cover, sewing and whatever else you love.

steven said...

weaver i had a voice for a decade and a bit that spoke through my painting. there's a language you develop that isn't about words. it's about knowing why you are doing what you are doing. it's also about being available to creative energy. this isn't done on a whim. it's worked for. it's mostly about getting your self out of the way and letting what will be . . . be. think back to your collages . . . . . .. steven

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

I don't have time to read the other comments today, so I am perhaps repeating . . . I think you find your voice by doing. It is in the process that we get a feel for what is right and what is true, for us.

I very much doubt that this will be a problem for you for long!

Good luck - and get to work. :-)

Totalfeckineejit said...

Lovely handwriting weaver!

jeannette stgermain said...

Finding your voice back, may take a while (maybe because you don't have enough time to think?). And then when you have found it, the next question is how to develop it:) Just go your own pace!
I have the opposite: not enough hours in a day to work out my ideas AND blog at the same time.

Golden West said...

I am running into the same problem this very day, trying to make Christmas cards. I've gone in 3 different directions and rejected each one as unworthy. Sometimes walking away from a project and coming back fresh a few days later will help it click.

Linda said...

I think if you have found your voice in your poetry, you should consider some themes from your poetry to help design the cover for the book. The poems I have been most successful with since I've been blogging are my ecology poems. I would probably like a cover that reflected the environment. Maybe thinking of themes will help you discover a way into the process. If you are half as successful at the cover as you are creating the poems, the whole project is sure to be fantastic. I love your enthusiasm for this! =D

ChrisJ said...

pialylJ don't do needlework, sewing or baking, but I do write poetry, books, bloggs and opinion pieces, (which I don't always have the courage to post). But I also paint and draw. I find that if Im not ready to do anything creative, I take a break, so special length of time. But I have found that the moment always comes again -- but not if I fret about it.

Phoenix said...

Yeah, I have encountered it sometimes.. been up and ready with all the ingridients, but just unable to bind it all together my style..I don't know why that happens.. but it has annoyed me at time, and at times helped me discover some abilities I never knew I had!

Cloudia said...

Ah there are seasons and spirals in the creative life, Weaver...




Aloha, Friend!


Comfort Spiral

Dave King said...

I have had almost a parallel experience to yours. I only began to write regularly when I began to blog. Until then I went long periods imagining that I had writers block. The self-imposed dead-lines have all but cured that. Finding your voice is another matter, important for some poets, less so, I suspect, for others.

Elisabeth said...

Hey Weaver. What a wonderful posting.

To me finding your voice is the essence of all creativity and I too had not thought about it much beyond the spoken and written word.

Maybe it's a bit like finding your eyes and hands if you are an artist, into textiles, design, a painter, sculptor etc, and finding your ears if you're a musician.

I often go back to one of my favourites, Virginia Woolf. She gives me courage when it comes to the business of finding my voice, however different it might be from hers.

Woolf writes:
So long as you write what you wish to write, that is all that matters; and whether it matters for ages or only for hours, nobody can say. But to sacrifice a hair of the head of your vision, a shade of its colour, in deference to some headmaster with a silver pot in his hand or to some professor with a measuring rod up his sleeve, is the most abject treachery, and the sacrifice of wealth and chastity which used to be said to be the greatest of human disasters, a mere flea-bite in comparison. (A Room of One's Own)

By the way, I think you have a distinctive and unique voice when it comes to your writing and poetry. No doubt about it, you've found it in your blog. As for your textile sense you might need to get back into practice to find it again.

It must be hard to be so multi-talented, says I, who can only write and has not one artistic and practical bone in her body.

Derrick said...

Hello Weaver,

I think Linda's idea of finding a theme from your poems could be a good starting point. Your hare poem is great from what I can read. Does it continue over the page?

I read a lot of poems each week of my Read, Write, Poem friends. Although I admire many of them I know I couldn't write like they do. Although everything we experience is bound to have an influence on us, I'm sure we all create in our own style.

Coastcard said...

I love your hare poem, Weaver, and your hand writing. I have difficulty enough keeping a typed copy of all my efforts, but I try to do this by assigning each poem a number, containing the year in which it was written. I have a separate (but similar) system for Haiku. I also TRY (but do not always succeed) to keep notes about each poem, and why I wrote it. It is surprising how often one forgets that particular snatch of conversation, news article, sunset etc. as new poems continue to come.

As for the matter of voice, well, as a left handed individualist, I have been smiling at some of the quotes here.

Thank you, Weaver, as always for sharing so much with us and for giving us food for thought. I await your poetry cover with great interest.

Bernie said...

I am impressed by your creative voice in so many different areas!You must be a very fascinating person to get to know!

I have written some poems through the years and they are all over on little scraps of paper, some saved here on the computer, some published in little church booklets like they have for Lent or Christmas, in drawers, in betweem pages of a book. I see I need to get organized but knowing me I probably will not.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thank you so much for all your comments - they are so interesting to read through. Obviously some of you have had similar problems and have overcome them, so I live in hopes. I think I need to sit back and think rather than rushing to get sewing again.
A trouble shared is a trouble halved - springs to mind.
You are wonderful bloggers all.

Midlife Jobhunter said...

I would imagine that because of your essay and poetry writing your textile voice has changed just as that work has grown also. That the voice will be different, but also much richer.

Poet in Residence said...

Interesting to see different styles of handwriting. Yours looks creative, elegant, confident. You come away from the margin. Does that mean you're progressing? Probably, yes. Good luck with the project.