begin again

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One of my dearest interweb-turned-real-life friends recently retired from her career as a dancer with the Joffrey Ballet. We were FaceTiming one night, her eyes lit by the faint glow of a porch light somewhere in North Carolina, when I asked how she was feeling about her “new life” as a mother and student of interior design. Her answer was simple and has stuck, taffy-pulling my mind ever since:

“I’m a beginner again.”

Her voice sounded equal parts nervous and optimistic, refreshed by the concept of starting over. She went on to point out the fact that as professional ballet dancers, we have trained our entire lives to (never quite) master one very specific skill. Since adolescence, our focus has been sole: dance. Starting a career at the age of 18 creates a certain sense of comfort, if not accomplishment, in that field. Leaving the studio and stage to forge a new path, well that is something else entirely.

It’s been quite a while, my friend pointed out, since she felt this brand new. She had not set out to learn a the foundation of a completely new trade in nearly two decades. Yes, it’s scary to suddenly feel so unsure of your footing. But guess what? It’s also exhilarating to not always know.

I’m finding all of this to be so very true as I navigate the murky (to me) waters of writing, illustrating, formatting, publishing, and distributing a book. This completely new set of skills that call upon another side of my creativity. Suddenly all of those years spent training expertise into expert seem much further away.

Was I really a beginner at ballet once, learning french vocabulary and using stories to memorize the order of exercises at the barre?

So we do what dancers do. I apply what a life on stage has given me here, behind the curtain, as I give voice to the girl in the wings. Determination, patience, and flexibility. Try, learn, begin again. Let’s publish a book.

 

“the silhouette inside” is coming so soon! stay tuned, friends.

a book, i hope

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Sweaty afternoons spent illustrating my book on the porch, punctuated by my usual seaside summer jaunts to York and Newport. Trying to retain some semblance of normalcy in a world turned upside-down…

C and I have taken to an evening stroll down Blackstone to stretch our legs and get out of the house, even if behind masks. Lately I find myself craving a disconnect from the all-consuming screens that seem to have taken over more and more of my awake time as connecting with the world in a physical way has become so limited. I will never consider myself an extravert, but as an artist, I certainly glean inspiration from the sights, sounds, and yes, those mysterious people of the outside world.

A few nights ago, we took our walk at the height of golden hour: that magical time of night where it feels as though the clouds have touched down to the treetops and your head floats up high enough into the branches to meet them. Everything seems just a bit more special…even your routine walk around the neighborhood. It hit me then- as I saw the low sun flare through fat, happy July leaves and felt a poem coming on- that I had written most of my book on this very same walk.

Almost every day last summer began with a walk to Wildflour. Between my home and my favorite café, words appeared in my mind. Sometimes one at a time, other times in hoards that clogged my ears and threatened to spill out my mouth if I did not sit down and write them out in time. Some days I would rush frantically to my café, so as not to lose a single syllable. Other times I let the words steep deep in my skull. Marinate before serving.

Pushing through the café doors, ordering my usual Providence Breakfast tea, finding a table on the coveted back wall, all of these keeping my words tangled somewhere behind my tongue, until finally, the release. An open laptop, a half full notebook, an outpouring.

One day, as I walked up with my empty teacup to ask for “a bit more hot water when you get a chance?” the barista (taking my cup before I finished, all too familiar with my daily re-steep request) posed a question toward me instead: “What are you writing over there?” She smiled graciously through orange-red lips and admitted to noticing the way I stare blankly into the coffee-scented air when I’m thinking. “A book, I hope,” was my optimistic reply.

Twelve months later, a new July has found me, with a very new set of summer routines. Kept from my café, I’ve collected the poems I wrote there; Remembering a past me and her previous tea, sipping in the day and exhaling words on a page.

My debut book of poetry and drawings “the silhouette inside” is coming soon.

 

judging books by their covers

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It’s officially summer! It feels like we slept right through Spring (anyone else?), but filling up my schedule with creative projects is helping keep some sense of normalcy in this odd time.

I spent the past three months of quarantine assembling my first book of poetry, and now comes the fun part- DESIGN. Fun, yes. Terrifying? Also, yes. I have always loved literary design, books and magazines with beautiful formatting…but creating one of my own that does justice to the poems I’ve pored over and describes my brand as a first-time author…that is a daunting task!

I’ve been perusing local bookstores (though it’s quite difficult in a germ-centric world), and scouring my own collection for inspiration. I’d love to share ideas and sneak peeks of the process here as I continue. Are you interested in book design? Where do you find inspiration? What kind of books are you drawn to? I’d love to know!

photos taken at pvd’s Riffraff bookstore/bar/café. Providence is the coolest.