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~ writing is verbal clay ~

Verbal Clay

Updated: Jun 12, 2019

I love words. I have since I was introduced to dictionaries as a child. I was fortunate to have a upbringing that included language based in Latin, which in turn helped me understand and appreciate word roots and origins. English is my third language, after French and Spanish.

I grew to love reading, and later, to write stories. It has always been my belief that writing is verbal clay. As a potter may use a wheel, or a writer uses a pen, both work with the same three basic ingredients: heart, hand, and creative spirit. These shape the clay to give it form or direct the flow of words to form a story. The heart guides the hands to express the vision and emotion. The artist within us gives us the creative energy that gives life to the formed pot, the written word. Without these three elements, the result would be nothing more interesting than a machine made cafeteria cup or an instruction manual.

While no one disputes their utility, these items lack the creative individuality of expression.

As a potter or writer, you have to tap your artistic talent to give voice to your creations. You struggle with every mark, every word, to bring your results as close to the expression you want to convey. Textures and glazes give life to clay as adjectives and adverbs give life to a story.

When faced with a blank piece of paper or a ball of clay and not know what to make of it; a mug, a bowl, or maybe a box? It is not that one doesn’t know what to write or create. It is closer to the truth that one is unsure how to translate their vision into words or into the marks and nuances that communicates with others. Pottery, like words in a story, you want the end result to have utility, a function for being, a reason to be written.

The mugs that feel good in your hands, the stories that move you, those are the creations that invoke positive energy which invite you back for revisits. Another cup of coffee with a good friend, a quote from well turned phrases to inspire. The diversity of style and form is akin to the people on earth; all different but all the same.

Innovative or pedestrian, your work reflects your individuality. Ask ten potters for a mug, you will get ten very different vessels. Some may be non-functional testaments to non-conformity. Others, while perfectly useful, might be drab and easily overlooked. But each of those ten mugs has a voice announcing the artist’s view. Mud or words, a little bit of potter or writer is always in that mug or story.

And a lot of both is in the book I wrote several years ago, The Mud Peddler. Which will soon to be followed by Mud and Fire (due out September 2019).

Both are amateur sleuth cozies, with potter Celina Cabot solving murder mysteries.

Due out in January 2019, Casket Callithump.

A motley group of potters tour Ghana to learn local clay work tradition and become embroiled in misadventure and illegal diamond trade.

(Books available on Amazon, Four Seasons Books in Shepherdstown, WV, and in my website shop.)

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