But I quickly moved on to college, assemblage, sculpture, and finally conceptual art. RA: I learned how to write by describing my art which combined images and text and explored the meaning of signs. I wonder now how I was able to do all that since I never had any money. During the 70s and early 80s I was very active in the art world here and in Europe.
I had two solo shows at P. I lived there for more than six months. DA: Your traveling days, resulted, appropriately enough, in your book, Traveling Woman. RA: I had always wanted to go to the Amazon. It was a childhood dream. My mother and grandmother kept me helpless and dependent. RA: Initially, I made a trip with a very small group through Peru not long after the tourist train to Machu Picchu had been bombed by terrorists.
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We ended up in the Amazon and I was amazed by everything. And the art by the Shipibo Indians just overwhelmed me. When I was back in New York, I got to know the man who was the expert on Shipibo art and made a trip alone six months later. I lived my dream. It was a wondrous experience, though there were some scary moments. So I did. He really encouraged me. It was a very positive experience.
Once I started writing and teaching, I really devoted myself to it for the next twenty years or more. In between projects, I still made art, mostly photo-based works and drawings but I was out of the art world. DA: Your story collection, Certain People, is brilliantly comprised of what might be called ultra short fiction. RA: Yes, I like that: the characters are exposed—not developed.
I met some very interesting characters in Australia.
The stories that take place in Australia came very fast once I was back in New York. I could hardly keep up with myself. When I knew I had the sweep of the story— as I like to call it—in a first draft, I knew I was halfway there.
I wanted to do a book about writing short short stories but in the end I had to include a section about using my technique to write longer stories and novels. I still hear from people who love that book. I was shocked, in fact, when I saw how the quality of the writing soared.
In some cases it was as though a completely different person was writing. That book and The Playful Way To Knowing Yourself were fun to do since I used a lot of my photographs and even some drawings in exercises.
niteacendont.cf : Playful way to knowing yourself, the () : Roberta Allen : Books
In my classes I often projected photographs to use as writing prompts for students. RA: While I was writing stories, I missed working with my hands so I started hand painting little boxes and jewelry with realistic fruits and vegetables. At that time, a woman who came to a reading said she wanted to study with me. I told her that if she found two more students I would start a class. She did. That was If you are someone who tends to pause and think, use a timer. As soon as you read the question and look at the picture, set it for two, three, or four minutes and go! The time limit you choose will depend upon the amount of space provided and how fast you write.
Experiment to find out. By using this method, you bypass the judge inside you who might censor your response. Energy is the spark that ignites when you connect with a place, a creature, a work of art, a sunset, a symphony, another human being. Energy is the invisible force behind the words. That invisible force is often locked inside a shell of fear and bursts forth when you break that shell. The feeling may be faint or intense: you may feel sad or happy, excited or distressed.
Feeling more alive is not always feeling good. Give yourself permission to feel whatever comes up. Your emotions are part of you and part of this process. In order for that to happen, allow yourself to write whatever comes to mind, no matter how silly it may sound to you, how nonsensical, foolish, or even scary!
Follow your energy wherever it leads you. Allow yourself to be who you are. Use the space provided for each exercise. This will keep you from writing endlessly, straying off course, and losing your initial energy. Your exercises should be the verbal equivalent of quick artist sketches, in which a model is captured with just a few strokes.
Keep a notebook handy for this purpose. When you draw a blank on one exercise, go on to the next. If you find yourself resisting an exercise, come back to it later. Do the ones that come easily. At the time, I was the freelance art director of a French food company, overwhelmed by deadlines.
Joel, my masseur, was right.
Remember those words when doing the exercises in this book. Read each question and quickly write whatever comes to mind.
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What do you see about yourself that you like? What do you see that you dislike? What would you say about yourself? Is it a circle? A zero? Relate this figure to your life. What comes to mind when you look at this figure?
Related The Playful Way to Knowing Yourself: A Creative Workbook to Inspire Self-Discovery
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