The Rhythm of Three in Writing

October 30th, 2014 in Inspiration

One interview I will never forget was with Artist Tyree Guyton. Tyree created the Heidelberg Project in Detroit, an outdoor arts project on the East Side not too far from my Grandmother’s house. Listening to him talk was a spiritually inspiring moment. dots

Tyree lost three brothers to the street. He saw his old neighborhood turn into rows of crack houses. Instead of letting the blight and drugs remain, he was called to do this bright, beautiful work. The images and materials he uses are recycled, colorful, and symbolic of transformation.

“Like the wheel in the automobile or the brightly colored Heidelberg dots, everything Tyree Guyton see’s is part of a circle of life.”  I wrote in this interview a while back.

Now, years later, I am called again to think back to a topic he shared with us two young writers in the room. Tyree explained that he believed everything was cyclical, but in this cycle life moved in rhythms of threes. A snapshot example:

  • beginning, middle, end
  • morning, afternoon, evening
  • life, birth, rebirth
  • child, adolescent, adult
  • breakfast, lunch, dinner

And Onward.

The circle still pops out often to me when I’m in Detroit. It’s a bright flash of this cycle, this colorful connection. It also reminded me of my own work as a writer.

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26 Years of Figuring It Out

October 15th, 2014 in Reflection

My Grandmother was married by the time she turned 18.

She had five children and a husband who died after three heart attacks and one world war. She had bills to pay. She worked odds and ends to get by. She had a hard life.

My mom had a few more choices open to her. She chose to go to college. She chose to get married and to have two kids. She worked 30 years at a steady job, but she ended the marriage after 15. She took steps forward, and one back again to find her own home.

Then, a balancing act began for me. I had two parents splitting up into two families. I had to learn that money was tight, and college was the path I wanted. I had to go to school and work right afterwards to save up.

By the time I entered Freshman year I had saved $10,000 and was shocked to learn it wasn’t enough for one year. I worked and I went to school. I counted the hours, the dollars for the books, the credits I could line up.  In the end it was one degree and debt from a large university. Then, I went ahead and got a graduate degree. Then I fumbled around at jobs until I choose a new journey about to years ago to create my own job.

It turns out my twenties were dedicated to this post-school fumbling, and ultimately creating. I am okay with that.

There are numbers, always, and there are choices. This past weekend I turned 26 years old. I started to feel worry, guilt, and anger at myself for not doing enough. But who's measuring?

At 26 I think more than ever creating your own happiness is about finding the balance you want. The only number we need to think about is one.

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Beginning Again in Detroit

October 2nd, 2014 in Inspiration

[prose poem]

I lose track of my days like the wind through the trees, flowing right through me.

Too much work will do that too you, but it is better in passion than in flight. It is better than burnout that singes the heart.

Aren’t these days lost to a flow we crave? Timeless. No boundary. It is indefinite rather than lost. Unnamed except when tied down to time and place. Another day waiting to be shaped.

This day we pulled out the beans and the leaves and tore up all of our beautiful work. The garden is dying. The last peppers warm their colors in the slow and sullen fall heat. We pack it up. We put it away. There is little food today.

We begin again. In this new two story flat, a field across the way. The two of us here now together watching the sunset peel back the colors of the sky. Detroit around us, darkness nearby.
We begin again. A cold night crying, asking, praying for guidance. Because the weight of the work is heavy now, and the future unclear. It is time to revise and revise. It is time.

We begin again. Every job. Every home. Every year. Every day.

We begin again. It is the only reliable beat to our hearts. Sleep in a bed somewhere at the end. When the day is done and the work tucked away. It is time to begin again.

What is left but you and I?

And the wind through the trees. Pulling and  pulling.

And the sunset, gone.

The Two Great Pains of Storytelling

September 13th, 2014 in Digital Storytelling

Pain of storyStorytellers often suffer from two types of pain.

These pains are a part of how we emotionally deal with the job of storytelling. They should not be approached lightly. If you are experience these pains you should avoid seeking the medical attention of alcohol, drugs, or the too extreme option of giving up. 

Instead, try to understand why you feel the pain and how you can create to counteract the symptoms you may be experiencing below. 

Pain #1 - The Roots 

The first pain is the pain of holding onto a story. This happens when you’ve carried around an idea and let it grow inside of you. The idea begins to take roots that poke out through your body, begging for release.

There was a time when I couldn’t stop thinking about addiction. I thought about addiction as it’s struck my sister. I read into the topic searching for meaning. I formed deep sympathies with those suffering and then I held onto a story idea. I carried around the pain the character felt for too long. I was unable to explain my emotions and held it all inside. 

The symptoms: This sort of pain is a swelling. It begins to appear  at first in waves and then into your daily life. You’ll hear the character’s voice or constantly think back to the emotion associated with the idea. It will feel like your own emotions. You may obsessive seek out other stories or experiences in relation to your story. It will grow and grow inside of you until you start writing. You may deal with psychological symptoms of guilt, dread, anxiety, fear, shame while avoiding the story. You are essentially avoiding yourself.  

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.” - Maya Angelou 

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About Me

Amanda Lewan - Digital StorytellerOn a mission to inspire others with storytelling. Digital stories and cultural insights included. Read more about me.

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