You know those people who lean forward a little, their eyes suddenly more focused, when you mention the word list? They’re the ones who make to-do lists with tasks they’ve already done just so they can cross a line through the words. They’ve already judged pros and cons of each restaurant before you can ask where they want to eat. Whether they use electronic notes or ruled paper, they are always organized.
I’m not one of those people. I rely on Internet services to make my grocery lists. I stay awake at night with tasks floating through my head like clouds rather than in straight lines on paper. When I try to make important lists, I often struggle to get past item two.
Whether you’re a list person or a thought-cloud person, if you’re reading this, you’re an artist. For artists, there’s a place for both the structure of a list and the formlessness of the abstract and unexpected. Art cannot be just one or the other—it thrives on the tension between the two.
This is why I’m honored to share with you our craft essay by faculty member Scott Nadelson. In “Box and Cylinder, Crystal and Flame,” Nadelson discusses how the sculptures of Louise Nevelson speak to the writer’s need to include abstraction along with the concrete sensory details—the form, the structure—we know are important to strong writing. In the abstraction counterbalancing the physical, we can find our work’s “poetic quality.”
Also in this issue, Lisa Morin Carcia interviews Debbie Clarke Moderow (2013), discussing Moderow’s time at RWW and her journey in publishing her memoir. The Iditarod competitor tells how the story of her races provided opportunities for her to go deeper, exploring her identity as a mother, wife, daughter, and athlete.
Next, alumni Chelsey Clammer (2016), Holly J. Hughes (2006), and Warren Read (2015) each discuss their experiences in publishing their creative theses and other work from their time at RWW. Along the way, they give their personal insights and advice for seeking out publication. With the varying perspectives they bring, I’m confident you’ll find wisdom that fits your style, regardless of your love or dislike for lists.
You may need more structure in your life to push you toward your creative goals. You might even need to make a list. You may need to dive deeper into abstraction. Whatever the case, I hope this issue inspires you to find balance between the lists and the thought clouds.
—Hannah Comerford, Editor