As an extension of The Black Lion Journal’s mission, The Wire’s Dream is a semi-annual magazine that values community, life perspectives, and different worldviews. Contributors were asked to complete a set of mini interview questions with the purpose of sharing with the readers and their fellow submitters a bit about who they are and about their creativity. All questions were the same for each contributor; and each answer given is unique, open, friendly, and candid.
Let’s start by talking about creativity — what does creativity mean to you?
I can’t think about the word “creativity” without thinking about the word “freedom” next to it. I relate to the two together. Being creative means being free to open your soul and share your true authentic self in whatever form that entails. That’s a scary thing to do, but it’s an essential task if we want to live our best full life.
How and when did you get started doing what you love to do? Who or what is your creative muse?
Truly, I don’t believe I have a creative muse, unless it is the whole of nature and existence, the turning of every new day, the beauty of every single delicate moment and every breath I take. As a poet, words are important to me and I pay attention to them – phrases, the particular sound of vowels and consonants, the mood a string of words can create. As an artist, color and line are important to me – the curlicues of a deep green vine, striations in stone, sunlight through a windowpane which changes the hue of the floor it shines upon. I think what I do well in my creative life is simple: I pay attention.
As far as getting started doing what I do, there was no “Aha” moment, no grand entrance. I have loved poetry and words for as long as I remember, so I started writing poems. I have loved visual art for as long as I remember, so I bought some paint and started painting. I learned and grew in both crafts by reading, watching and listening, and by daring to try new things.
What is your most memorable creative experience, if any?
My “firsts” – first poem published and first piece of art sold – are two experiences I hold in my heart. The poem was short and sad – a childhood experience of how words can be used to hurt. When I saw that poem in print, one phrase in the middle, “Sit and feel / the electric saw of syllables, the weight / of rage in the flaming house” brought back that childhood trauma. A reader of the journal commented on that line. She said “I know what you mean. I feel my parent’s fights in that line.” I understood then, that poetry has power to reach deep into memory and bring emotion to the surface.
The first piece of art I ever sold was a mixed media piece created with paper, paint, oil pastels, ink, and embellishments on a 20 X 24 inch canvas. I had a lot of doubts about the art I was making then. No education, no experience – what did I know about art? But someone bought it and told the shop owner to tell the artist (me!) that the piece “moved their soul.” I was astounded, but also humbled. I realized that art has its own power to touch and move people. I resolved then to be careful with creativity – to honor the process all the way through – from idea to first draft to finished piece to whomever might read or view it.
People approach creativity in such different ways! What about you? What is your creative routine? Do you know of any quirky habits or creative superstitions?
I find it difficult to write poetry and create visual art at the same time. In the last couple of years, I’ve discovered this routine: Write in the winter and spring. Create art in the summer and fall. This is not to say I won’t revise a poem or submit an art piece to a journal in the “off-season,” but the great bulk of my work is divided in this way. Another division is within each day. Since I am a triathlete, I train in the mornings. I come home, shower, eat lunch, and then begin my creative day. I work from early afternoon to early evening, about 5 hours.
Time, Tips, & Future Goals
How do you make time to do what you love to do?
I’m lucky. My work is my writing and art. I don’t have an outside job, so I get to enjoy the freedom of having time. Plus, all my kids are grown now and my house is quiet most of the time. This might change if I have grandchildren!
I’m also very efficient. I have many responsibilities and many projects and they are all important to me. I’m a fast worker and I make quick decisions. This is just my basic personality.
What tips can you give novice creatives about getting started on their creative journey and about submitting their work for publication?
Don’t wait. Do it now. Don’t wait until you get a degree, a studio, or a writing space. Don’t wait until you’ve read a bunch a books, or gone to a bunch of workshops. That’s not to say don’t do those things at all, (they are good things) but the best time to start your creative journey is now. If you wait until your life is perfect and all the stars are aligned, you will be waiting a long time. Time is precious.
I also strongly believe in the power of mentoring. I was blessed with an amazing poetry mentor and now, to share the gift, I am a poetry mentor to beginner poets. If you are just getting started in writing or art, seek a mentoring relationship. It can be an asset to your journey.
Submitting is a lot of work. Yes, rejection stinks, but I’ve chosen not to take myself so seriously that it stops me from submitting. I like to be daring and take risks, and make a game out of the submission process. For example, I challenged about 20 friends to join me in a “Rejection Challenge.” We are trying to get at least 20 rejections in our 4 month challenge period. In order to get rejections, what do you have to do? Submit!
What do you hope to achieve with your creativity? Where would you like to see yourself in about 5 years, professionally and creatively?
I want give back to the art and poetry worlds. I’ve been very blessed in my own journey by more experienced artists and poets and I’d like to continue that cycle. I’ve started to teach a few art classes and I’d love to do more of that. I want to continue mentoring poets. I’ve started an online journal, Rockvale Review, and I’d like to see that thrive. Right now, we are only publishing poetry, but my goal is to open the journal to art submissions too.
With my own work, I’d like to publish the full length poetry manuscript I’m currently working on and I hope to continue to learn new techniques in art and apply to more art shows and exhibits.
— TWD Magazine 3rd Collection—
Sandy Coomer is a poet and artist living in Brentwood, TN. She is the author of 3 poetry chapbooks, including Rivers Within Us (Unsolicited Press). Her art has been featured in local arts and exhibits and has been published in journals such as Gravel and Varnish: A Journal of Arts and Letters. Sandy is a teacher, a mentor with the AWP Writer to Writer Mentorship Program and the editor of the online poetry journal, Rockvale Review.
You Can Find Sandy Here
View Sandy’s Art In TWD Magazine 3rd Collection
“5 Paintings” — p. 30-39