It’s impossible to respond, impossible not to respond, but in a state of shock it is hard to come up with an original thought.
Sometimes words just don’t do it. What to say about what happened in Washington D.C. this week? It’s all been said. It’s still being said. All I can do is listen, admire journalists for what they do for the rest of us, and feel.
When I can’t write, or when my words fall short of expressing what I am feeling, I turn to drawing, but not because I know how to draw. I am not one of those people who has a natural instinct to draw a realistic image, or imagine a fantastical one. I am one of those people whose natural instinct is to draw two humps as mountains, a hump between as a rising sun, a square and triangle for a house, an upright bushy tree with red smudges for apples. Oh, and a chimney on the roof of the house with smoke curling out and two flattened W’s as distant birds.
Still, I have often turned to drawing when words fail me. I am a writer through and through, and still I say this: words set limits on the world. They are designed to contain meaning within the confines of their lines and curves. Even spoken, words are small soundbites attempting to lasso bits of what is going through our mind and wrestle it into speech.
Sometimes what is going through our mind is inexpressible. If you feel this way too, try drawing. Get out the crayons (or the Apple pencil) and just move them across the page (or iPad). Let your mind quiet as you settle into the meaningless of mindless drawing.
If, like me, you “know” you can’t draw, this is a great exercise. Why? Because when we writers write, we know it better be good. The writing must say something profound because our feelings are so strong and our thoughts are so meaningful.
When you know you can’t draw, then drawing is creative freedom.