The Writer’s Desk: Finding story through a different lens

Do you have other creative interests besides writing? Whether you whittle, do crafts, or play music, that creative effort enhances writing by opening channels in your brain to your imagination. Before I began writing in earnest, I pursued a degree in visual art. Since then, I obtained a more employable master’s degree in library media and later an MFA in writing.

The 1913 Nobel Prize for Literature winning poet Rabindranath Tagore, best known for his Bengali poems, stories and plays, was also an accomplished visual artist.

The 1946 Nobel Prize winner for Literature Herman Hesse also illustrated several of his and other’s books.

Before she became a world-known poet, Sylvia Plath was an accomplished artist. She painted portraits and landscapes, and filled sketchbooks with pen and ink drawings. The details in her work likely influenced her eyes for detail in writing.

The American poet Elizabeth Bishop also delved into watercolor and gouache painting.

Victor Hugo, French author of Les Misérables, left behind some 4,000 drawings, and by the end of his life he had stopped writing and concentrated on his visual art.

The act of drawing and painting helps train one’s powers of observation and pay attention to details, so it’s no surprise that many poets and writers practice some form of visual art. If you find yourself mired in writer’s block, pick up a pencil and sketch pad and look at the world through a different lens.

Recently I have returned to my art roots by participating events with Seattle Urban sketchers such as the recent Sketcherfest Edmonds free sketch walks. I’m rusty, so these are by no means masterpieces, but I am enjoying the process and have signed up for a watercolor class at the Waterfront Center.

Recent sketches by Laura Moe.

The one on the left is from a jazz evening at the Hazel Miller Plaza, and on the right is a sculpture in the Cascadia Art Museum.

— By Laura Moe

 Laura Moe is the author of three novels and is currently board president of Edmonds based EPIC Group Writers. Several board members at EPIC are also artists. Her fourth novel, The Blue Whale of Summer, will be released in 2023.

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