Dear Lovers of Story, in my desire to learn the art of storytelling, I remember saying out aloud ‘I wish I could write’ way back in 2001 when I had the opportunity to have some of my photos of Naples published in Marie Claire Australia but I needed a story to go with the images. I rang a journalist friend of mine begging her to do the story for me; instead, she pointed me in the direction of a writing course that she once took that opened her life to words.
I was desperate, I wanted those images published so badly. Not only would having my photos published in a magazine be the most exciting thing to happen to me in the past twenty years but it was a lifebuoy that was being thrown in my direction to a new life as a photographer living in Italy and that my friends knew was a life I wanted more than life itself.
‘Word constipation’ would have been the way I described my prior ability to get anything down on paper; words were trapped deep down in my stomach, lodged in my throat, and they would go around and around in my head but when it came time to put them on paper, they popped out like little pebbles of ‘sheep poo’. I could never pass the one-sentence mark let alone master the art of storytelling before walking away in shame. I had no education in English grammar, how to form a sentence and I still don’t!! The kind folks who have been reading my blog for many years have been forever sending me corrections (love you) and feedback.
I took the course and a whole new world opened up to me, a world that was stored inside me without knowing. There were wisps of memories, the pungent scent of jasmine and garbage mixed together in a street I walked down in Bali in 1990, the exact shade of watermelon red of my favourite top when I was sixteen, the tightening of my stomach of my last heartbreak before I kissed Sydney goodbye, and the body language of the man that delivered it. All this could be accessed from an unlocatable database just waiting to be called upon whenever I gave myself the space to sit down and engage in this other dimension.
Henri Cartier Bresson once said about photography, ‘It is putting one’s head, one’s eye and one’s heart on the same axis,’ and for me writing is a similar version: ‘It’s putting your heart, your conscious & your subconscious minds and your pen on the same axis!’
Alchemy happens when I sit down with a blank canvas in front of me, thoughts and details flow out of a part of me that aren’t present in my daily life if I don’t give myself the space and time. I love the quietness of writing which is very different from the intense physical and emotional energy I need to take the kind of photos I love that feel alive. Sitting down to write is a way to get to know myself and the world around me and I have a lot I want to share.
This June 6-10, if the planets align, I am mixing all of my favourite ingredients together, walking the back streets of Florence, sipping caramel coloured Cappuccinos, friendship and sisterhood, history and writing, and attending Lisa Clifford’s ‘Art of Writing’ retreat. I want to learn the art of storytelling from Lisa, to hear how experts do it and if I dared to, how I would put a book together (a proper book without photos). What could I incorporate to improve my process at the same time giving myself the gift of taking the time out to write?
I believe we all have a story to tell, and our stories are important; they are the transmission of the way we do things from one generation to another from person to person. If you are curious like me, love learning, and want to learn to tell better stories, you may be interested in Lisa’s Art of Writing course. You can check out the full details here.
As a special gift, as you are a valued member of my community, Lisa is extending a 10% discount on any of her coming Art of Writing retreats. Please note this is for you as you are on my list and will not be published anywhere else. When you go to book, simply use the subject heading, “Carla’s friend”.
Your story is important.
Light and love,