I know that the secret conversation between the fire and my work will get told eventually, when the door is finally opened… — Robyn Beattie
To illustrate the transformative nature of revealing secrets in Writing and the Public/Private Line: What Will the Family Think? (up this week at Mother, Writer, Mentor) I chose two versions of one of my long time photographer/poetry collaborator Robyn Beattie’s images to accompany the post–mostly for love of the little window of light, the tiny buttons, the dripping seam. It felt dark, fertile, and fairytale.
Robyn’s images have long accompanied posts at Feral Mom, Feral Writer, have been part of static poem/image collaboration (Ananda’s Line), and formed the beautiful spine of our poetry movies. Since relocating to San Diego, I have missed working with her in person but we manage to continue to work together continually online.
Robyn wrote to me this week regarding her photographs I used at MWM, which it turns out, are of a kiln. Here she shares about her process of making a warthog in one of Barbara Hoffman’s ceramic classes in Sonoma County.
Kilns are interesting places… you make something of wet clay, sometimes working with something very specific in mind, wanting it to be “just-so.” You fire it once (bisque), then apply the glazes or stains of your choice, and place it into a “cave” (the kiln), apply huge amounts of heat for a long time, and hope that inside the belly of that fire-laden beast, your pieces are surviving, possibly, and only possibly, being transformed into the pieces you planned.
Ha!!! I have to laugh. You see, an important thing to keep in mind is that “the kiln has a vote.” There is a wonderful quote that reads,“Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.”
Soon after starting to work in clay, I hopefully learned not to get too invested in the final outcome. Ha!! I laugh again. I am such a stickler for details. My first piece was an 18 inch high face of a warthog, and his ear “blew off” in the bisque firing. Even so, he is gorgeous, wondrous. His scars hardly show.” The “secret” changes that go on behind the closed door of the kiln can be a surprising delight.
And so, I continue to vacillate between tightly controlled workings, and looser, playful creativity. I know that the secret conversation between the fire and my work will get told eventually, when the door is finally opened.
I wrote Writing and the Public/Private Line: What Will the Family Think in honor of my later writer friend Barbara Robinette Moss in celebration of her fearlessness when it came to writing about difficult topics. I wrote an early draft of the post with my blogging students while we were working on just that: an exercise designed to help us look at the public private line we walk when we blog. Would love your comments at MWM on the topic of sharing secrets in your writing–do you share your writing with your children? Other family members?
I’m also looking for Intermediate Bloggers to join me next week at San Diego Writers, Ink; we start this Tuesday September 16 from 6:30-8; six sessions. *Needs students to run.
My online Beginning Blogging section through Story Circle Network starts Monday, September 15. *Filling but a few spots left if you wish to join.
Two writers I have had the privilege of working with when it comes to blogging wrote about the mask-making work we did together. The mask-making portion of Transformative Blogging continues to be one of my favorite aspects of teaching blogging. Enjoy:
Lisa Rizzo, blogging at Poet Teacher Seeks World:
Martha Andrews Donovan, blogging at Martha Andrews Donovan: One Writer’s Excavation:
Photos and artwork by Robyn Beattie.