Saturday, May 19, 2012

Say It With Sequins...

Welcome to another Saturday at Saturday Sequins!

Today I'm going to do something different and talk about another part of my creative identity. One I've been out of touch with for some time, and one I haven't even had the courage to claim... until now.

Just playing around?

I should have known I was a writer when my favorite thing to do in my father's office was sit and type away on an old typewriter. Even though I was five and couldn't read or write, I just loved the feel of those keys under my fingertips.

(Barbie's diamond stealing shoes.)

I should have known I was a writer when, instead of dressing Barbie up for her big date with Ken, I had her push him down the stairs to avenge her sister's death. Or when I had her break into his jewelry store because she was an international jewel thief and he had a fine selection of diamonds.

I should have known I was a writer when my imaginary friends had more complex social lives than characters in a soap opera. But for the longest time, I dismissed it as an overactive imagination. Or, you know, just part of being a weird kid.

(I'm still a weird kid.)

And then there was the summer going into my junior year of high school when I holed myself up in my office and wrote a horror novel. You'd think I would have realized I was a writer then, but... nope. I thought it was just play. An excuse not to get a crappy summer job. It never occurred to me that I had a job.

This denial continued into adulthood. In my late twenties, I wrote about 700,000 words of fiction, from drafts of novels to short stories to children's books. In the months before my horrible shoulder injury, I was at the point where I could write a novella a day, working for eight and ten hours at a time in a sort of trance. But was I a writer? Oh, of course not!

I wrote, I reasoned, but I wasn't a real writer. For one, I wasn't published! For another, I didn't write in a serious genre. Just about every writer I talked to, or agent's blog I read, told me that these things made me a dabbler. A fake. A wannabe. And I did just about the silliest thing anyone could do in that situation... I listened.

Even when being unable to create made me feel like I was a ghost, like I'd lost everything that made me me. Even when the only thing that kept me going through the pain and exasperation, besides Mr. Sequin, was the stories I told myself.


Or maybe not.

Fast forward to the present. My shoulders have healed for the most part, and I've realized just how precious my creativity is. Way, way too precious to belittle. Too precious to keep telling myself I'm not a real artist because a handful of people take offense at my use of the word.

I know I'm an artist. It resonates in my chest, making my fingers shake with nervous energy whenever I'm not making things I love. I don't need anyone's validation but my own, and that's a freeing feeling -- and something I wish for every one of you. Most of all, I hope it doesn't take a terrible injury for you to get to that point.


My declaration -- in sequins.

So I've embraced being an artist. I've accepted that not everyone will agree with me, and that this is OK -- because those people are wrong! Sure, people are entitled to their opinions, but nobody is entitled to defining us... except for us.

Still, I'm having a little trouble declaring that I am, in fact, a writer and storyteller. So I've decided to say it in a way that will grab my attention and remind me over and over again that I am a writer -- no matter how often I need it.

That's right! I'm saying it with sequins. I'll keep this bracelet where I can see it every day. And when I'm feeling doubtful that I can overcome my writer's paralysis and begin the new novel in my head? That I can balance being a storyteller with being a jewelry maker, a blogger, a hula hooper, an amateur chef? Well, I'll put it on and let it work its magic.

Because if anything can help me claim my writerhood, it's a little dose of sparkle and shine.

Your turn: Are you having trouble claiming something important in your life? What could you do to change that?

Thanks for reading, thanks for commenting, and as always, have a sequintastic day. <3

(PS: This is my entry for the You Are A Writer Contest, hosted by Jeff Goins. Want to enter too? Go for it! You have until tomorrow. http://youareawriter.com/contest)

38 comments:

  1. Good for you! That's something I need to work on as well - not letting other people dictate who I am or bring me down. This is a great post. [=

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    1. Thanks! :)

      Not letting other people define us is tricky, but definitely doable. The first step to take, I've found, is to realize that if we want to, we can take responsibility for our own definition. We don't have to give that power away. You've already gotten that far, so hey, you're doing great!

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    2. That's what my sister always says - Don't let anybody steal your joy. Thanks for visiting my blog! You actually inspired me with the sequins. I think your pieces are really cool. [=

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    3. Aww, I'm so glad I inspired you with the sequins! <3

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  2. Thank you for a wonderful post, Sarah, it made me think about my own "boundaries". Sadly, they are not even set by other people, but myself!

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    1. You're welcome, Sasha! And you make a very good point -- a lot of the time, the thing we struggle with the most is the limits we place on ourselves.

      I remember a few years ago when someone whose approval I'd desperately been seeking finally told me I was a "real" writer. I felt... nothing. It turned out, it was my own approval I was after, not hers. Other people can be a convenient excuse to withhold approval from ourselves.

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  3. OMG! HAhahahahahaha!

    I love that Barbie pushed Ken down the stairs to avenge her sisters death! That is a great plot! All my daughter ever did with her Barbie was have him on top of her all the time.....LOL. You are too funny!

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    1. I'm glad I could entertain you with the Barbie stories! I have to say, that was one of the tamer plots of mine. My mother's wooden cuticle sticks all disappeared from her bathroom because I needed them for Vampire Slayer Barbie. ;)

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  4. Nice post! It is funny how we can get caught up on these titles and how our definition changes all the time. I've been published a fair amount and I still have those days where I change my definition of what a writer is (usually whatever I'm not).

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    1. Thanks, Michelle!

      It really is funny -- I've done the very same thing, changing my definition to whatever I'm not at the time. This seems to be almost a universal thing for writers!

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  5. You are a writer! Yay, you!

    I've gone through the same thing, knowing I was a writer but denying this based on other people's interpretations.

    My babydolls (no Barbie, cause the little brothers used to chop off their legs) used to time-travel to the 1860s, wagon-training it through the Rockies and getting captured (and falling in love with) wild Indians. The dryer was a wonderful vehicle for time travel :)

    I also used to play with crayons at the dining room table. Never drawing anything. The crayons were genderized by color and I had elaborate stories going on in my head. Since it looked like I was just coloring, the pesky brothers left me alone.

    So glad you're pursing your writing!

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    1. Oh my gosh, I love the dryer as a time machine! That's so clever, and so are the crayons -- I have a feeling you and I would have gotten along really well as kids. :)

      I hope to start my new novel this summer. So far, I have a loose plot, some characters I'm in love with, and a list of songs that have inspired me.

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  6. Great Job! You are definitely a writer. And a sparkly one at that.

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  7. wow, this was very inspirational to me! I think I really needed to read this. WE ARE WRITERS! WE WRITE! WE ARE AWESOME!

    --"eccentric auntie" - I'm not sure I'm signed in the right way here, lol

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    1. Aww, I'm glad this was inspiring to you! And that I posted it at just the right time. Yes, we ARE writers and awesome ones, at that. :)

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  8. Unfortunately for me, I'm the one holding me back. I may pay lip service to thinking of myself as an artist, but in the back of my mind I don't really believe it! It's hard to overcome our worst selves. Good for you to realize that you're a writer and believe it.

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    1. I think that's true for a lot of us. It was easy for me to use other people as an excuse, but in the end, I was really the one who needed convincing.

      I realize that it's easier said than done, and that it's not like flipping on a light switch, but you do beautiful work, and I hope that you fully claim your artisthood. <3

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  9. Fantastic writer post oh writer you....I chuckled at pushing barbie down the stairs. I cut all her hair off if that makes you chuckle.....keep writing, keep sharing your stories. xox

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    1. Thanks, Corrine! <3

      Ha! My Barbies had their share of military haircuts. I was so excited when I found out how to give them new hair. The hair club for dolls. ;)

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  10. Sarah, awesome post. I love your self discovery journey and thank you for sharing with us. Although I don't believe I am a writer I am an artist. I need to stop fighting my right side and give in to the artist in me and let it grow.
    Kepi

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    1. Thank you so much, Kepi!

      You're right, you ARE an artist. It's tough to stop fighting it and just let it happen, but I know you can do it. And once you do, the freedom that you'll find will amaze you. :)

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  11. You go girl! Thanks for this post - it helps us realize that we are not what others say we are but instead what we make ourselves to be.

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    1. Thanks, Kathy! I'm so glad this post was helpful to you!

      It's freeing and scary at the same time, knowing that we define and create ourselves. Much better than letting other people!

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  12. Boy, can you write! You go for it;) I just read your injured shoulder post, lots of good advice there & why do we listen to those idiot doctors who look at you disdainfully just because you're not bleeding all over the place?! Having said that the NHS has been great to me ;) I used to desire validation from others, now I give it to myself, such a gift!

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    1. Thanks, Emma! :)

      I'm glad you liked the shoulder post. Isn't it sad that some doctors just won't take us seriously? Every person I talk to is literally surprised to find a doctor who listens. I'm glad that NHS is taking good care of you, though. <3

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  13. I love that you wrote what you truly want to be known as in sequins! Hell yeah you're a writer! :)

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    1. Thanks, Kimberley! I'm thinking of making these bracelets for friends, too. There's something about sparkly words that makes such an impact on the brain. :)

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  14. Yeah Sarah! Reading your blog, I could have told you that you were a writer. But I'm so glad you've claimed it yourself! :)

    Having suffered through a neck and shoulder injury that sounds very similar to yours, I understand about feeling like you're "fading away" in terms of being able to do anything you love. The only things I could do for several months were to walk (didn't use my hands) and tell stories in my head. I did a lot of 'writing' upstairs during that time frame, and it was after I recovered that I settled down and wrote my first published book.

    Oh, and I love your socks! :)

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    1. Karen, thanks so much! When I write my posts, sometimes I'm not sure if they're even coherent. ;)


      I'm sorry that you went through something so similar to my own injury! I'm glad you've recovered too, though. There's nothing like an injury to make us realize how much we do with our hands and shoulders and how awesome it is to have creative freedom.


      Also, have I thanked you yet for the sequins? I am in love with the stars and have some plans to make earrings with them.

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  15. Hey sweetie! Hope you`ll visit my blog and maybe...we can follow each other?:X

    FashionSpot.ro

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  16. Hi Sarah, stopping by to say hello! Love this post! I went through the same thing, years ago of course. I didn't see myself as an artist because I did needlework and embroidery designs. I thought artists were people who worked in watercolors and oils. Really silly huh? I do the same thing, I just work with thread and beads instead.

    I got past that mind set years ago but it took a long time.

    Hugs, Pam

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    1. I used to think that artists only worked in watercolors and oils, too! It's silly, but understandable -- there are a lot of Very Serious People who continue to think this way and might for their whole lives. I'm glad that you and I realized the truth. :)

      Hugs back!

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  17. AMAZING post girl... really got me thinking. I went through that phase as well... I know I can draw good, but am I reeeeally an "artist"? My mom always wanted me to write a book one day... but am I reeeally a "writer"? We should forget the labels and just be "us"... do what comes naturally. You're right. It's a freeing feeling accepting this and not letting anyone define who we are. I love how you "said it with sequins." Very inspiring- you are a fabulous writer. I would love to read your stories!!

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    1. Aww, Kristen! You're such a sweetheart. <3

      I think you're an awesome artist, and as for writing, you have such a knack for storytelling. If you want to give writing a book a try, Bird By Bird and Writing Down The Bones are two books that really helped me. :)

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Comments are like chocolate chip cookies for my blog! They're always appreciated. <3