A Map of Creative Expressions

Remember when you were five years old and didn’t know you “couldn’t” sing? (I write this for me, the girl who dreamed of growing up to be a singer, the one who couldn’t carry a tune even if she had a peach basket.) Remember when you were given paints and a piece of paper and you just sat right down and made a picture? And you liked it. You liked the doing of it, and you liked the picture you created as well. You gave it away as a gift and felt good doing that, too.

Here’s another writing exploration from my book, Wild Women, Wild Voices–Writing from Your Authentic Wildness

In this one, we’re going to make a map of our creative expressions. But, instead of just listing specific items, throw words describing them all over the page. Use different-colored pens; make a map bright with wild statements, words or images. Remember, we’re not talking Art, with a capital A here: we’re talking creative expressions that brought pleasure, that were fun to do or to make. Start with the first thing you remember — whether it’s from when you were a child or something you did two days ago — and then fling the memories down in phrases as they come to you.

Here’s an image an early rendering of my map:

mapInclude at least fifteen or twenty instances when you felt good in the process of being creative. The map making, like any other form of creativity, will become more fluid if you don’t try to think of the “right” expression but instead are open to any expression. Don’t judge. Just remember, write it down, and celebrate your wild, creative nature.

What to do with the map after you’ve finished? First of all, keep it close by so you can add to it. The more you see on your map, and the more varied the statements are, the more you may realize what a creative individual you are. There is no one else in all creation like you. Think of that!

Writing from your map:

As you glance over your map, the idea may come to you of writing a personal narrative essay about a particular experience, what you discovered about yourself or the world and how it changed you. Or maybe the list itself has the makings of a story or poem. Creating the map might remind you of some creative activity or expression you loved but haven’t given much time to lately. Maybe the time to take it up again is now.

“My first felony — I took up with Poetry,” wrote Sandra Cisneros in her poem, “My Wicked, Wicked Ways.” We are creative outlaws, all of us.

I’d love to see a rendering of your map. After you’ve played creating it for a while shoot a picture and post it.


Hmmmmmm. So far as I know we’re not going to be able to post the jpgs of your Map in the comments section. So if you want to email a jpg of yours, I’ll post it here.

Here’s one I got today from Linda G.

hhh 001

Place as Memory — Writing the Geography of Our Lives

“Memories are rooted in place: a lifetime of kitchens, backyards, porches, and patios. Our bedroom and our best friend’s bedroom, the street where we played until dark and our parents called us inside, the park where we picnicked, the swimming pool with its aquamarine water smelling of chlorine or the pond on the farm with its muddy banks. If you want to enter a memory, enter a room in your grandmother’s house. Remember an incident, and the place where it happened will figure prominently in the story. Everything happens somewhere, and if you want to bring the memory alive, be in the place where it occurred.
garden cottage

Continue reading

Why Travel is Good for a Writer

Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living. — Miriam Beard

My father was born under the sign of Sagittarius, the wanderer of the zodiac. . . . And though in astrology-speak, I have Sagittarius rising, I blame my wayfaring ways on my father. He’s the one who sat me down on the sofa with the invitation to “come have a look.” He spread the big green pre-World War II atlas across both our laps and took me on a tour of the world, page by page, map by map, finally coming to the solar system, the pictures of the planets bright against a deep, black sky. I tell him Venus is my favorite and that one day I want to go there. “I’ll be a Venusian,” I say.

The Universe,” Daddy says, tracing a finger over the inky expanse. “Nobody can say how it came to be or how big it is or where it begins or ends.” He and I fell quiet then, on that scratchy brown sofa, dreaming dreams of natural-born travelers.*

Continue reading