The Sound of Writing

Many years ago, when I had fully transitioned out of theatre and into the corporate world, I would listen to my old rehearsal tapes on my commute to work. I loved the sound of learning a piece of music: the music director counting off the beat, breaking down a phrase into sections of soprano, alto, tenor, and bass—discussing the interpretation of the music, bad notes, fixed notes, laughter, and then putting it all back together.

Bit by bit, putting it together.

-Stephen Sondheim, Sunday in the Park with George

(Oh yes, Mr. Sondheim, we will talk about you someday soon, my friend…)

These days, I am drawn to the sound of authors discussing their writing and creative process.

Do they write early in the morning or late into the night?

Where do they find their ideas?

What do they find most challenging about writing?

Seth Meyers recently interviewed Paul Beatty regarding his book The Sellout. There is some interesting conversation here about Beatty’s writing philosophy, including the question- Are you a Completionist or a Perfectionist? Hm…




Dance Break!

…So I am picking up the theme of my last post, where  I resolved to remain politically aware and active, but I’ve been REALLY feeling it is time to clean up my Facebook feed.

Today’s creative inspiration is brought to you by Dance…the beautiful, unique art form that requires inspiration, choreography, improvisation, discipline, athleticism, and magic to exist.

Earlier this year I started to follow various dance companies, such as Boston Ballet,  Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, and Atlanta Ballet. It is such a great surprise to see rehearsal clips and performance announcements on my newsfeed. So much beauty and impressive talent. It is the dance break in my day.

We also have the Academy Awards tomorrow night. Have you seen La La Land yet? I could write a whole post on this movie, the art of musical theatre, etc., etc….but from a dance perspective, the opening number was extraordinary. It was so cool to see dance on/in/around cars. Read more about the choreographer Mandy Moore on this Behind the Scenes post on NPR.

Dance Break!

Much-Needed Inspiration

Peeking out of my Facebook feed, amidst too much real news and politics (it is clearly time to clean up my newsfeed), two stories about street art caught my attention this morning.

Check out Jim Bachor’s pothole mosaics featured on CBS News (just ignore the other news stories while you are there) and the Audubon Mural Project.

How cool are these artists? They each had a vision, and they used their creativity to beautify their cities…and maybe even inspire some contemplation about the world around us.

Love it.


The Element of Surprise

My husband and I visited family in Arizona last spring. It was the first time I had travelled so far west in the U.S., and in all our sixteen years of marriage, it was the first time I got to watch him play golf on a golf course.

The course was beautifulSaguaro Cacti, Ocotillothere were so many plants I’d never seen before, it was like visiting a different planet. We also saw a Black Chinned Hummingbird, which was a new bird sighting for us.

I kept my eye out for scorpions, bobcats, and rattle snakes but mostly, I saw bunnies. There were bunnies everywhere. I’d take a few pictures of the game and then look to my right, and there were eight bunnies chomping on grass in the corner.

When we got back from Arizona, I had over ten pictures of bunnies from that day. This one is my favorite and just makes me laugh. I call it “Bunny Bottom.”


Whether at family gatherings, nature walks, or vacations, I tend to take hundreds of pictures at a time. Later, it is so much fun to click through each picture and find something I never expected to capture.

What has surprised you in your artwork lately?

This is What We Do

Last Saturday, January 21st, I walked in the Women’s March on Washington. It was an amazing, peaceful gathering of people, united in protest. We were 500,000+ women and men packed shoulder to shoulder. At one point, I couldn’t lift my arms because we were sandwiched together so closely. As someone who is not comfortable with crowds, I still felt like I was in a safe space.

Our fellow marchers had travelled all night from all over the country. I met people from Oregon, Texas, New York, Indiana, D.C., and Pennsylvania.

In addition to the signature pink pussy hats, there were many signs.

A guy walking behind me commented, “Wow, there’s so much angry creativity here.”

The day wasn’t about creativity, but it’s what we do— right? As artists, and simply as human, creative beings, we channel our anger, loss, heartbreak, love, hope, and experiences onto the page or canvas.

If we want to understand a society, we study their art.

SNL political spoofs remind me of Shakespeare’s satires and tragedies.

The knitting of the pink pussy hats (…and gigantic uterus shown here!) reminds me of quilting bees and how women have historically sewn their stories and messages into quilts.


Some of my favorite moments from the day are as follows:

The song Quiet became a flash mob, sung around the world.

One group handed my friend a folded note. They were distributing various quotes of inspiration and freedom.


There was a group from Savannah, Georgia carrying signs painted by artist Panhandle Slim. Each sign had a quote from a writer, poet, singer, artist, character, or public figure. Read more about this incredible artist and his story here.


Whatever you are feeling right now, take time to immerse yourself in your art— express and articulate, breathe and heal. Wishing you peace, my friends.

5th Grade Makeup Project

I recently decided the corner of my office needed some color. The white walls were glaring at me, but I couldn’t hang an expensive piece of artwork there. I needed to paint something myself.

…And since we’ve determined that painting is not one of my fortes, I decided to try a stenciling project.

…However, in addition to my lack of painting skills, I should also admit that I’ve always had some anxiety related to stenciling. It is one of the few D’s I remember receiving in school.

I was in fifth grade, and I’d never received a D before, never mind in Art class. What’s up with that?! Apparently I didn’t follow instructions, and my work was messy. When I asked my teacher about it, she pointed to the paint I had brushed beyond the stencil borders.

Yes, well… I could see how that was a basic stenciling requirement.

35+ years later, I felt ready to try again, and I promised myself to be very patient with the process.

And even though I was feeling some pressure with such a structured craft, picking out the colors and paint still allowed me to be creative.

I used Martha Stewart Satin Craft Multi-Surface paints in a combination of blues:

  • Base: Deep Sea #32081
  • Light: Summer Haze #32023
  • Dark: Blue Sky #32021

The steps for stenciling are simple (Sure!):

  1. Paint the canvas with the base color. Allow it to dry completely.
  2. Place the clean stencil onto the dry canvas to plan the stencil location. If you are planning a symmetrical design, measure evenly between each stencil placement or use multiple stencils.
  3. Use masking tape to lightly secure the stencil to the painted canvas. Use as little tape as possible.
  4. Dab the stencil brush into the paint.
  5. Dab the stencil brush onto your palette (or a scrap piece of paper) until the excess paint is removed.
  6. Dab the paint onto the stencil, starting from the stencil border and brushing in towards the center. Do not brush outward.
  7. Take your time. Breathe.

Of course, you might want to search for more accurate instructions from a pro (Not someone who is permanently scarred from fifth grade art class!). I also recommend practicing your stencil technique beforehand on a piece of paper like I did.

This combination of blues turned out to be exactly what I wanted. The colors are calming, and the satin finish absorbs light instead of reflecting it. I am happy with how it turned out…and I’m crossing my fingers for a B this time around.


The Spark of Childhood Memories

As a snowstorm worked its way across the country this weekend, I was taken back to my favorite memories from childhood. We only got a dusting here in Atlanta, but early Saturday morning, I could hear kids in the neighborhood laughing and screaming as they played outside.

For me, a snow day began with the strategic layering of clothing: long underwear, jeans, turtleneck, sweatshirt, and then ski pants and a puffy jacket. Each foot wore two pairs of socks, a plastic baggie, and boots lined with fleece. Of course I wore mittens, a hat, and a scarf too.

My brother and I would step outside to play, moving at the warp speed of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.

With our backs in the snow, we’d sweep our arms and legs to make angels. We’d roll onto our stomachs and crunch the snow in our mittened hands, testing it for density and stick. The best snow would stick together for the perfect snowball, which could be rolled across the yard to make the ultimate snowman.

We’d build forts out of the huge mounds of snow lining the freshly-shoveled driveway. I liked to carve shelves and buckets out of the pile. Then, we’d pack snowballs, stockpiling them in our forts for a snowball fight with friends.

Those were the best days. Playing hard. Sweating in my snowsuit even though it was minus-something degrees out.


It is fun to tap into those childhood memories. Even though they were many years ago, time-traveling through them is a vivid experience.

And maybe that is why, Anne Lamott, in her book Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, recommends childhood memories as an inspiration point for writing.

“Start with your childhood, I tell them. Plug your nose and jump in, and write down all your memories as truthfully as you can.”

She goes on to describe how to branch out from there. Beyond, “just sit and write,” as some authors advise, Lamott provides tangible exercises for writing. She also shares anecdotes from her life. Reading Bird by Bird is like taking a writing semester with Lamott as the professor (Oh, to dream!).

There is a reason why Bird by Bird is one of the most recommended books for writers. If you’ve already read it, it may be time to read it again. And if you’ve lost your will to sit and write, start with the spark of a childhood memory.