Regular readers of Pamwrites know that though I am a breast cancer survivor, I've had some issues with the omnipresent pink ribbons which will soon be coloring our world. When I learned that the Wisconsin Breast Cancer Coalition (WBCC) has a goal of changing the discussion from beyond the pink ribbon (awareness and screening) to prevention by learning the causes of breast cancer by 2020, I was excited. When I was asked to consider being a survivor artist for the WBCC's Rare Chair Affair 2013, at first, I balked. I'm deep into a major overhaul of my novel, and, I'd never done anything like this before. Eventually, remembering my own words on how working in other arts can open us up as writers, I dove in.
Julia Cameron writes about synchronicity, those sudden “pieces falling into place” moments that can happen when we are open and creating. I've experienced quite a few in this project, but more than that, I've simply felt grateful to be able to help raise funds (I hope, I hope, someone will actually spend money on my little creation) for a worthy cause.
Writers are often asked where their ideas come from. I suppose that happens for artists too. When I was given the WBCC's theme this year, “The clock is ticking…” (referencing their goal of learning causes by 2020), I knew I would do something with “so many books, so little time,” as my theme. (So Many Books, So Little Time, by Sara Nelson, is also a great book.) Reading and writing give my life meaning. This blog was initially called, “Finding Meaning Through Words.” Writing and reading have been constants in my life, from my earliest memories. Five years ago, during my breast cancer journey, I found reading, and writing, difficult. I couldn't concentrate. This was a real loss for me. But, I could write small journal entries and I could read short stories — novels were out for a time, I simply couldn't stay with longer texts, so I escaped into shorter ones.
Like any creative project, there was a process to follow. First, the idea, then what did I need to make it happen? The chair had been hanging in my garage from when we bought our home twenty-seven years ago and I wouldn't let my husband throw it out the many times he wanted to. Before I began, the chair and table (a purchase from Habitat for Humanity Restore) looked like this:
download adobe cs6
Just like writing, the creation required effort, dedication, perseverance and multiple revisions. It also required support and feedback, which in my writing life I get at RedBird-RedOak Writing, but for this project, I was guided by two survivor artists and our coach-artist, Marcia Schneider. All three of these women have been added to my circle of important, wonderful people.
Once a work is finished, it shouldn't fade away in a drawer (or computer file for writing) or a closet (for artwork). Remember previous advice, Toot Your Own Horn? Put it out there, right? But, where? Where can people see it if they can't make the event? Or, where can people see it and maybe decide to attend the event? In my case, the choice was obvious, a book store. Milwaukee has an awesome independent bookstore, Boswell Books. They have generously provided space to display my pieces from now until September 26th. The Milwaukee reading and writing community really, really rocks. I hope any locals will stop in, check out the display and buy a book at Boswells. And, perhaps, if it works in your life and schedule, you could join us at the Rare Chair Affair on September 27th.
GINORMOUS THANKS to:
Jo DeMars – survivor artist who invited me to participate, encouraged me and provided a most helpful husband to put the lamp together!
Marcia Schneider, Waukesha artist (and awesome coach for me in the is project!)
Marge Vetter – survivor artist, she of the ever-present smile and optimistic outlook
Stacie Michelle Williams, Boswell Books (for enthusiastic support)
Wisconsin Breast Cancer Coalition – for all the work they do and allowing me to be a small part of it
And the following Wisconsin authors who have generously donated books for the silent auction, check out their work: Meg Kim Choi, Amy Lou Jenkins, Jeanette Michalets, Kim Suhr, Dave Thome and Carol Wobig.