Artist? Writer? Candlestick MAKER?: Identity and the Creative

For the longest time, I wanted to be a writer. Decades. "A writer is a person who writes," I heard, and so I did. But I didn't call myself a writer until I started to get published and even then I always felt like I was exaggerating. Boasting. Maybe until my second book, Writing Is My Drink, came out. Then, I figured I must be a writer because not only did I write but I'd written a book about writing.

Scarf with book

But then a couple years ago, a few things happened in a row: A manuscript I was working on seemed to dry up and blow away right in front of my eyes; the 2016 Presidential Elections blew up our world; and an idea bloomed inside me. The idea was more of a feeling than a thought, a primitive urge to move away from words and move toward color.

I started painting little watercolors on postcards. And then after a while, maybe a year or so, I decided I wanted to paint on fabric again, to create batiks as I had as a girl In my grandmother’s backyard in Redwood City. By now, I'd moved out of Seattle and was living by the water, where my need to work with color grew as my need to write seemed to diminish. But was I still a writer? And if I was, would it be okay if I didn't write for a while? And if I weren’t a writer, who was I?

Then, after a year or so of making batiks, I found myself making scarves that I could imagine people wanting to wear. I spent most of this past winter making scarves and creating an online store and by spring I was in business. I was making art and I was selling art. I was a artist? Could that be? And if I were an artist, was I still a writer? And did any of this really matter?

It kind of did matter. I wanted to know I was still me, that I still mattered if how I used my creativity was changing. Or changing for now at least.

And then I heard this word: Maker. Maker seemed right. I like to make things. I like to make essays, blog posts, memoirs, classes, webinars, little watercolor paintings, chocolate chip cookies, baby blankets, bandannas for dogs (more to come!), and beautiful silk scarves.

Maybe you like to make things too. Maybe narrow definitions of who you and who you can be hold you back from just...creating, making.

And the thing I've come to realize since that manuscript dried up and blew away and the country blew up and an idea bloomed inside me: I'm happiest when I'm creating and connecting with other creators. Makers.

If you know me as a writer, I hope you'll check out my designs.

If you know me as an artist, please check out my books.

Top image: How to Sleep in a King-Size Bed pairs well with Boulder Creek Summer Wisp.

Below:  Anthologies featuring my writing or editing with Carmel Motel Featherweight.

scarf with books


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