Sunday, August 9, 2015

Creativity Saturday with Alice Walker

Yesterday afternoon, as thunder rumbled but the rain never came, I watched this documentary on Alice Walker.  I cannot believe it took me so long to watch this segment of PBS' American Masters Series.

I know that these segments are not always available forever, and that this segment had been out awhile, so I decided that I would watch it after my friends went home after a delightful picnic and pool time together.  I had planned to do other tasks (like grading) while watching it, but it was so compelling that I quickly put aside those plans.

I did work on a baby quilt while watching.  That activity seemed perfect.

Most of the information wasn't new to me.  Alice Walker was a touchstone to me in my younger years, and I already knew a lot about her.  Still, it was wonderful to hear the interviews, to see the footage, and to think about what it means to be a woman artist, especially one of color.

I did find one thing new:  there were interviews with her former partners, including the husband who was father to their daughter Rebecca.  And I somehow missed the fact that Alice Walker and Tracy Chapman were lovers.

In my younger years, I'd have been fascinated by the variety of relationships.  Yesterday I was most enthralled by the recounting of the writing of The Color Purple and the photographs of the notebooks where she wrote the longhand draft of the novel.

I love the idea of the characters talking to her, of her ancestors coming to her while she wrote.  I have always been receptive to that idea, but I was even more open to it yesterday; the night before I dreamed of my grandmother, whom I have been missing a lot in these late summer days.

When the movie finished, my first thought was to watch it again.  Instead, I watched American Beauty, which I haven't seen since about 2003.

I wish I had watched the Alice Walker documentary instead.

Both films talk about becoming an authentic person and staying true to that authentic person.  But the Alice Walker documentary made me want to get back to my writing desk and do my best work.  American Beauty made me want to hide under the bed.

Inspired by Alice Walker, I looked at my longer poetry manuscript.  I've been wrestling with whether or not to rethink it (see this post).  On Wednesday I had a long, wonderful conversation with my colleague creative writer friend who encouraged me not to take the chapbook overlapping poems out of the manuscript.

Yesterday I decided to follow her advice.  I also decided to take out the weaker poems (none of which are in the chapbook) and put in the stronger poems that I had thought about using if I had decided to take out the chapbook overlapping poems.

Today it's back to work; I have to turn in grades for 2 online classes tomorrow, so today I need to make sure I have all the last minute, extra credit graded.  But I'm happy, because once I get grades turned in, I have one of those windows where I have a few weeks of extra writing time--let me not waste them!

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