Finding Your Writer’s Path

 

Sometimes in life, you just fall onto a path without even really thinking about it.

There are no crossroads, no signpost; barely even any discussion on the subject. Your parents, your school, even YOU think, "You are this way, you are good at this subject, therefore you should do this." And that's it. Decision made, future path in life determined, without any maps or charts ever having been taken out of a drawer, let alone consulted.

directory-466938_640

 

And obviously, this way of things can work. There are plenty of people out there who were good at maths at school and who are now happily working as accountants. Sporty types who went into sporting careers. Kids who loved science who work in laboratories or in the Health Service.

But sometimes it's a different story. Sometimes the path you fall into isn't the right one for you, and then it takes a little longer, and a lot of blundering along rutted tracks in the dark before you find your true way.

For me, my dark, rutted track was Art College. My school had a strong art department, a charismatic Head of Art, and I had some talent for painting. So that was that; decision made. I would go to Art College in Brighton, and I would become an artist.

brighton-67169_640

 

Readers, I was bewildered for almost my entire four years of training. Not about how to paint, because for the most part, I could do that, and it came relatively easily to me. No, the thing I couldn't work out, even by the end of my degree, was what the purpose of it all was.

We were given barely any formal training - my parents would have been shocked if they'd ever found out what their money was paying for. Just a space in a shared studio, cut-priced art materials, and periodic visits from a tutor to discuss our work when he could drag himself out of the pub next door.

art college
The College of Art in Brighton, and the pub next door.

I loved colour, and my bright interpretations of flowers in the vases I collected from Brighton second-hand shops showed nothing of my intense loneliness and lack of purpose. I felt lost and overlooked, not least by myself. It was only when I finished my degree and started to write a novel with the highly dubious goal of financing my career as an artist, that everything clicked into place and I finally found myself.

"Ah," I thought. "This is who I am."

writing-923882_640

Even though I had some talent for art, stringing words together to create a book, with the potential to transport people to a whole new world, resonated with me far more than laying oil paints down on canvas ever had. I'd found my map, my natural habitat, and my path through it. I was a writer.

But now it was the turn of those around me to feel bewildered - my friends, my boyfriend, none of them could take my writing seriously, even when I began to get published. They viewed me as an artist who also wrote, when I wanted them to think of me as a writer who sometimes painted.

I don't know why it bothered me so much, although I suppose in those pre-Internet days, I just longed to be part of a tribe of like-minded people, and I couldn't find them. So, I moved away, to make a new start. A different city. A clean sheet.

"Hello, I'm Margaret. I'm a writer. Oh, and I also paint sometimes."

There have been many different maps since then, but even though the terrain has been varied, the maps have all belonged to the same series; a series made for writers.

pieniny-1053236_640

And my artist friends? I still see them every few years, and inevitably, at some point, they will ask me, "Have you done any painting recently?"

It's a fair enough question. I did meet them at Art College! I really shouldn't let those old feelings of being judged slip over my shoulders like an itchy cloak. And I have been creative occasionally, although these days I'm drawn more to collage rather than to paint.

SONY DSC
Urban Jungle - collage, 2014
trowse dyptich 2
Trowse Dyptich, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I suppose it's similar to when your family is gathered together, and you find yourselves slipping into your old patterns of behaviour. But if you can avoid slamming your way upstairs to your bedroom in a parody of a teenage strop, you get yourself back again pretty quickly as you drive home.

I have this long-held dream of painting the red rock formations in New Mexico like Georgia O'Keefe did in the 1930s and 1940s.

el-morro-national-monument-140118_640georgia-okeefe-396957_640

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One day, I'll definitely go there. Whether I'll reach for my palette or my notebook when I do, remains to be seen.

Perhaps both? Yes, both sounds good to me.

Margaret

PS, don't miss my new series Write Despite, starting on Thursday 21 January, where writers write about the challenges they have overcome in order to get their words down on paper!

You might also enjoy:

Introducing Write Depsite ...A New Thursday Feature about writing in spite of life challenges or adversity.

What is Writing Success For You?

Can writing Improve Your Confidence?

9 thoughts on “Finding Your Writer’s Path

  1. Pingback:

  2. What a beautiful and evocative piece. I especially liked the anecdote about the tutor and the pub (followed by the photo of the school and the pub).

    Reply
    1. Margaret K Johnson

      Post author

      Thanks so much, Terry! I'm glad you enjoyed it. 🙂 The tutor in question used to creep into the studio - when he appeared - and say in a husky voice my friend was an expert at imitating, "How's it going, Meg?" It gave me the creeps!

      Reply
  3. Very thought provoking, and resonated very much with my own path; still not sure I'm on the right one, I keep stumbling into roadblocks!

    Reply
    1. Margaret K Johnson

      Post author

      Thank you, Cora! I'm so glad you got something from it. I'm surprised to hear you're doubting your own particular artistic path. Let's meet up soon and you can share your roadblocks with me. 🙂

      Reply
    1. Margaret K Johnson

      Post author

      Thanks, Juli! Though funnily enough, since writing it, I've begun to think about doing another collage again! 🙂

      Reply
  4. Pingback:

  5. Pingback:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *