Thursday, January 20, 2011


As the 2011 academic year starts at the Georgia Tech Language Institute, I find myself on a JOURNEY with a new set of fellow PILGRIMS—international students—enrolled in my CREATIVE writing/blogging class. How exciting to open worlds of new possibilities to these brilliant and amazing students from countries such as Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Spain, Turkey, Venezuela, UAE, Senegal, Colombia, and Korea!

I am inviting them to use my language—English—in a fresh and different way. We are leaving behind the usual academic rhetorical structures taught at the GT Language Institute and venturing into the unknown—to see what we can IMAGINE and CREATE!

Think how challenging it is to summon forth the UNKNOWN in your first language! Now, ponder expressing your CREATIVE ideas in a different language! What happens in your brain? What happens in your heart? Courage must be employed! SOULFUL COURAGE!

What if you were to CREATE with the JOYFUL EASE of a CAT NAPPING, I ask my students? Today, during a “free” writing exercise, one of my students exclaimed, “I like losing control!” (We are using Natalie Goldberg’s six rules for writing down “first thoughts” from her book, Writing Down the Bones.)

Michele Cassou in her book, Life, Paint, and Passion: Reclaiming the Magic of Spontaneous Expression, advises, “…go where it is easy. Easy means ripe. Go where you are attracted….While you work on the part that is easy, other parts will mature in you, and they will be ready and waiting. You move step by step, from the easiest to the easiest.”

For me, HALLELUJAH TRUTH, joyful ease of CREATING comes from repetition. As a visual artist, I return to familiar images. I repeat images again and again, as if I am picking apples from low hanging branches of an apple tree. Cassou writes, “Your painting (for my students—WRITING) is like an apple tree. If you want to eat fruit, you look for a ripe one, one that drops in your hand when you touch it….Remember: Every apple will be ripe in its time; do not rush it.”

Most CREATIVE JOURNEYS are like driving on the interstate. Mile after mile, everything looks the same—gas stations, restaurants, and signage. Then, suddenly, when you are ready, you EXIT the familiar interstate and you ENTER a specific place—one with its own peculiarities.

And so it is with the drawing/paintings I have on today’s blog. Both paintings have Hallelujah and Wandjina connected by a green-leafed vine. They are similar in the repetition of imagery but different in execution, color, and overall mood. I CREATED both with the JOYFUL EASE of a CAT NAPPING because the “process” or JOURNEY is more valuable to me than the “product” or DESTINATION. I am a believer in delightful subtle discoveries.

I would like to give my creative writing students the gift of this JOYFUL EASE as they write in English! FELLOW PILGRIMS, I ask you to join us on this CREATIVE JOURNEY for the next 6 weeks! In the words of Michele Cassou, the creative process is “never tedious or tiring because there is no need to force anything. Depth resides more in surrendering to spontaneity than in hardworking struggle.” HALLELUJAH!

(This Hallelujah image was done more than a year ago. The "discovery" in this drawing was the appearance of the green vine, which is significant to me. I feel that I connected with a deep part of myself--in this case--Wandjina. The  Hallelujah image at the top of this blog entry was done within the first two weeks January 2011. I had my coffee with Hallelujah, my allotted morning time to create, and so I repeated this image again and found it very satisfying!)

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