I’ve dabbled in many things trying to figure out what I want to be “when I grow up.” My father crafted amazing projects out of wood such as rocking animals (lions, giraffes and horses) and puzzles but my attempts to craft from wood in middle school shop class failed miserably. Not to mention that it’s not exactly safe for me to be around sharp, spinning things like saws.
I always loved art class in school but my work was overshadowed by artists far better than myself. Other students could draw realistic people and scenes while I did better with abstract and impressionistic pieces. My teachers seemed to have a higher appreciation for recognizable things than what I’d come up with so my work rarely made it into school art shows and displays.
In high school I took a computer programming class and discovered to my surprise that I was actually quite good at it! While my friends and fellow students kept getting stuck, I’d plow right through the steps and my program would run perfectly after I cleaned out a few bugs. I’d then help my friends with their code and I was impressed that my mind could work like that. I probably should have explored that area more because it had the potential to lead to a productive career but I didn’t.
I took a couple of computer art classes in school too. They didn’t call it graphic design but that’s what it was. Graphics on computers were pretty rudimentary back then but I was able to create things that impressed my teacher so much she wanted to use them on the school website. That never actually happened because I got sidetracked by trying to pass the classes I wasn’t very good at so I could graduate.
My father had a talent with a camera. Just about every photograph he took turned out perfect. People hired him to photograph work and social club events. He used his old Olympus SLR camera to take all the pictures and every shot was interesting. While I love taking photos and often snap several in a day, I don’t consider myself a photographer. I’m just someone who likes to take pictures. Being a photographer takes an eye and a skill I just don’t naturally possess.
When I was a stay-at-home mother I decided to expand my knowledge of graphic design, photography and photo editing by taking some online classes. It was fascinating learning about proper photo composition and where the eye is naturally drawn to. I went out and took several rolls of pictures with my father’s old Olympus camera but very few of them turned out well. I really enjoyed learning how to edit photos with Photoshop and bringing out details that were there in the scene but hadn’t been captured on film. Exploring graphic design with Illustrator was fun for me and while I created projects I liked, they just weren’t up to professional graphic design standards.
I’ve had to brush up on those Photoshop and graphic design skills recently as I work on the cover for my Boston story e-book. I dug out those three-ring binders and reread the lessons until it dusted off the correct memory files in my brain. Once I remember what I was doing, I had a lot of fun working on my cover…at first. The longer I work on it though, the less I like it. I imagine that happens to everyone after a while. I don’t know that I’ll ever be satisfied with the cover but I will eventually have to stop reworking it so I can publish my story. I’ll do my best and hope that people don’t glance at it, cringe and then keep browsing titles.
All of my creative explorations have taught me one thing: I am a writer. I can dabble in whatever I want to and I continue to paint, take photos and play with graphic design but my strongest ability is writing. I don’t profess to be a perfect writer and I never took any college courses in it so my grammar isn’t up to snuff but as every writer knows, writers write! I will always write, even if it’s about the most mundane-seeming things in the world. I am a storyteller and if I don’t get the words out of me, my entire creative essence suffers.