This year I’ve been exploring the world of art through painting as well as writing – partly as a result of the pandemic lockdown, partly as a culmination of years of ‘dabbling’ in acrylics. A few weekends ago I decided to take the first step to taking my art to the next level and enrolled in a class about turning your creativity into a business. I was pretty nervous as my painting still feels very new and fragile, but came away feeling inspired and, perhaps more importantly, with the realization that this new approach to painting could also inform my writing career as well. The first exercise in the class was entitled ‘crafting your narrative’ and it became such an important exercise (for me at least) that I wanted to blog about it!
So what is ‘crafting your narrative’? Well, basically it is an initial exercise designed to make you think about your own creative narrative – what makes you and what you craft unique. Honestly, I can’t say I’d ever thought of looking at myself this way. All my elevator pitches and synopses have been focused on a particular book I’ve written and what makes it ‘unique’, rather than focusing on myself as a writer. When it came to my painting, the class prompts examined not only the media and mode of expression I use, but also what inspired me and how I thought my work made other people feel. In the end the (rough draft) that I came up with for myself as a painter was “I create abstract acrylic paintings that explore color, symmetries, shapes, and the relationship between the natural world and our interior selves…” Not bad I thought for a first attempt, but then I immediately began to think about how I would craft a similar narrative about myself as a writer…and soon realized just how much harder that would be!
Crafting your own narrative is, I discovered, much more challenging than summarizing a book for an elevator pitch – yet it makes perfect sense. As we discussed in class, when you are trying to differentiate yourself as any kind of creative, it’s vital to know who you are and what makes your work unique. So I set about trying to craft a narrative the same way I had for myself as a painter…and so far I’ve really only come up with a very rough statement that I am a fiction writer ‘who writes about bold, intriguing women against a backdrop of real and re-imagined histories’. Of course this doesn’t sound like most of my books at all – or me – so crafting my own narrative is definitely still a work in progress:)
So TKZers, how would you craft your own narrative as a writer? How (in one sentence of two) would you describe yourself as a writer and what makes your work unique? Do you find this exercise as challenging as I do?
Quick note: It’s fall break this week and we’re embarking on a driving trip round our beautiful home state of Colorado, so my internet access will be a little bit more limited today than usual – but I will be checking in!