Wednesday, April 20, 2016

#AtoZChallenge, Q is for Questions

Many, if not most, of my journal entries start with a question. There seems to be an awful lot I want or need to know! But questions lead to answers which then lead to inspiration and insights and, of course, more questions for next time.

Today's page is made up of some purplish mulberry paper I found ultra-cheap at Big Lots; I think I paid about $3 for 100 12" x 12" sheets in a rainbow of colors. I love the texture and tough-delicacy of the sheets and have used them for a variety of projects. I particularly like this true "mulberry" color and for today have paired it with some strips of paper that I recycled and cut from an old colored-pencil drawing I had done of some eggplants--dozens of eggplants, too many eggplants, if truth be known. I couldn't stop drawing them. And then I didn't know what to do with the piece until I thought "collage material." 

As for the photograph, it's a vintage pic I cut from a magazine (where else?). I think it's supposed to be in Hawaii, but I chose it because it reminded me of old family photographs I've seen of my grandmother who was born and raised in Fiji. I never knew her as she had passed away before I was born, but her life was straight out of a novel: the daughter of a Boston whaler and his wife, my great-grandmother, a desperate, stranded former nanny who had three previous children from a bigamous marriage. It turned out the dashing sea captain she'd married in the islands already had a wife safely stowed back in England.  Her situation, and the ensuing scandal, has always made me ask why and how and who--good questions for both the fiction and nonfiction writer in me.

Needless to say, they are also questions I've never had good answers to, leaving me free to solve the mysteries in my own creative ways, such as with my art journal. Family stories aside, some other types of questions I like to work with in my journal are:

  • What are my goals for the week, month, year?
  • How will I achieve them?
  • What creative work (painting, drawing, poetry, novel . . .) do I want to tackle right now? What's calling to me? What are my priorities? What's next?
  • Manuscript questions: plot holes, character interviews, back stories.
  • Visual art: what colors should I use for a particular piece? What's the emotion I want to convey? Is there a story to the piece?
  • Real-life conflicts and difficulties: how to solve, how to let go, how to move on.

Whatever you choose to ask your journal, keep in mind it can really be about anything: from the meaning of life to what to cook for dinner. It can even be as simple as asking: What should I write about today? Just so long as it starts with the letter "Q" you'll be fine! See you tomorrow.

Tip of the Day: Not every question can be answered immediately. Finding good answers can take time, the important thing is to write your questions down in your journal and leave enough space to fill in the blanks. A good technique I've found is to write a question at the top of a page and then skip several pages before I write down the next one at the top of another page. The spaces in between can be filled in later and in no particular order. Having your questions pre-written can serve as a useful prompt, especially when you're feeling a little stuck.

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