For me, the acquisition of something red — anything red — is a sure-fire pick-me-up.Which brings me to my very first mention here of The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.
If you read this blog with any regularity, my dear inklings, you’ll inevitably
read hear me mention this book in more detail in the future. For now, know this: If you ever find yourself in a creative funk, or if you’ve ever felt driven to make or do or be something, but you’ve never given yourself permission, then Cameron’s book is for you.
It’s about healing the creative part of you that has sustained damage. It’s all about creative recovery.
In her book, Cameron talks about “touchstones.” Touchstones are things that you love, things that you connect with. To me, touchstones are tangible things that remind me of the parts of me that are intangible.
My touchstones are tangibles that resonate with the intangible in me. My touchstones are physical representations of aspects of my soul. And lest I digress into some new-agey, psycho-spiritual ramble, here’s an excerpt from a list I made a few years ago:
Touchstones: Things I Love
my Polish pottery
Mama’s Mexican soup
swinging on swingsets
being out in a boat
the smell of the air after it rains
clothes that make me feel sexy
my wrists and ankles
conversations that last until 4 a.m.
Some of these touchstones remind me to seek beauty — in the world, in others, in myself. Some of them nudge me back toward the kid in me — the kid who remembers how to play, how to believe in magic, how to laugh.
Some of these touchstones are my therapy for writer’s block! When I can’t write, using my fingers to slap some oil paint on a canvas is a sure-fire way to unlock the words I’ve got stuck somewhere in the back of my head.
And there’s nothing like a good bowl of Mama’s Mexican stew to fill my belly with the kind of comforting warmth that says, “Yes, all is well, and all is well, and all manner of things are well.” *
Gimme More — Please
To my list of touchstones, I’m adding “buying items that are red.” Deep red, to be exact. Deep red, black, and purple are my favorite colors; I have to remind myself to buy clothes in other colors and color schemes. The brilliance and vibrancy of the color red just draw me.
I read somewhere that this year, red lipstick is all the rage. Baby, that sounds like my kind of year.
Give It To Me Raw
Over at Unstressed Syllables, some of you have heard me talk about the heartache, the effort, and the pain that go into writing — or, rather, the tears, the sweat, and the blood.
I suspect the blood might be most important. What novel could live, if not infused with the lifeforce of its author?
I doubt it’s a coincidence this vibrant, sensual, alive color is the one that resonates most with my writer’s heart. We writers sink our teeth into the meat of the psyche. And we like it raw. Give me the passion and the grit and the thrill of the unapologetically real. Let’s paint everything red and throw our arms wide and scream out the truths that everyone else is afraid to whisper.
When I see and touch things that are red, I feel excited. Energized. Ready to go out and do. All the better if I’m buying it new: fresh, a symbol of new beginning.
Red is the color of birth, too. When I’m working on a rough draft of a novel, I’m giving birth to something. And it needs my full attention and my energies, otherwise it’s going to wither and die. Or it might go feral and turn on me. You never can tell with these wild, newborn writings. Red touchstones remind me of what I’m doing.
Red touchstones remind me of why I’m here.
* I am paraphrasing Julian of Norwich, who wrote, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”