In the fall of 2019, when we could still safely go out and do stuff, I was at a craft show and a woman came up to me and said, "You look beautiful. I love your aesthetic." I thought, Huh, I didn't even know I had one. What exactly is that, anyway?
My ten-year-old granddaughter, Maeryn, is way ahead of me. Recently we were talking about her goals, and on her list she included, "I want a more pleasing aesthetic for my room."
They're getting smarter, these mini-women.
Lately that word has been popping up in my daily round. In Bella Grace magazine, which I highly recommend by the way, I read an article about an aesthetic known as Dark Academia. Some of it (not the darker, more horror-slanted aspects) intrigues me and I'm reading more about it. The aforementioned granddaughter is going for an Anime aesthetic, and pulling it off nicely, I might add.
Then quite without realizing it, some of you gave me glimpses of your aesthetic, or what is even more commonly known as your core, from the French word coeur, the heart (as in Cottage Core, Bardcore, Fairycore etc.) .
LILY sent me this picture of the things that inspire and encourage her. The firewood, the Phantom of the opera and the books and the jar of gratitude and the feedback from a friend -- there is something positive and earthy about her intentional journey.
EMII shared the above visual which she created for her word for the year -- HUMAN. It is spare, full of space, and the use of gray is significant it seems to me. She gives us a peek into her aesthetic of grace and patience and humility.
This nudged me to ask GLORIA if I could use some of the artwork she did for the online courses I eventually opted not to develop. THIS is the Gloria aesthetic -- somehow zany yet straightforward in a simple way. In essence, she artistically nails it.
And what, pray tell does this have to do with our writing? Everything, ladies.
Teachers of the craft call this style, which most will admit they can't teach you. They can only open the doors so you can discover it and remove any obstacles that stand in your way. They aren't wrong by any means. I've said and done that myself with clients and students. It's tough for a lot of writers, especially in this competitive climate where everybody seems to be writing and nobody we know seems to be getting published. The temptation is to find out what's selling, what's trending and then somehow shape our work to fit into that.
Have you noticed that it doesn't work?
What if instead we thought of writing style as simply a reflection of our personal aesthetic. Not the aesthetic we're going for or trying on. That's great for Maeryn. She's a tween, experimenting with different selves to see which one really fits. I'm talking about that natural vibe that when it's there in what we do, what we say, how we dress, how we create our environment, we feel that sweet peace down in the core of ourselves. It's right. We're in the groove.
So, new CHALLENGE. Here are the suggested steps. Note the word "suggested." Feel free to be creative, as long as the intention is there:
1. Take some time to look at yourself when you are the most authentic. Think about what look makes you feel confident. What decor draws you in when you're flipping through a magazine or wandering around in HomeGoods (is anybody actually doing that right now?)? Is there a theme to the books you reread or have on your Amazon wish list? What's on your playlist? What's in your podcast cue? Who do you admire, alive or dead, not to copy but to be inspired by?
2. I love me a collage for putting this kind of thing together. A mood board is also effective. Even one photograph or piece of art can capture it.You may be more partial to a list. I can see Gloria, Lily and some of our other visual artists drawing images. A fair few of you will naturally turn this into a poem or creative paragraph. Whatever it is, find a way to get the big picture in front of you.
3. Try to put it into a few sentences. Remember, this is about your aesthetic, the look and feel and sound of your life.
4. THEN, look at your most recent piece of writing. Does the style you see there match your personal aesthetic? Is the essential you reflected there? If so, go with that. Be even more brave and free in expressing that core in your work. If not, can you rewrite a portion of it while --
* wearing a confidence-inspiring outfit
* with your playlist on shuffle
* and something on your writing space that makes a statement about who you are?
Will you share #3 and #4 with us? Take your time. Don't rush this. Enjoy this delicious process. I'm going to do it right along with you, since some things have definitely emerged for me of late. When you do feel like, yes, this is it, think about how you might share this with us. Your visual? Before and after paragraphs? A creative description of what you've discovered?
I want to fill up the blog next week with daily reports from you. ONE of you will be selected (not sure about the selection process yet) to do a guest post here on Doorways, based on your feedback.
Oh, yeah. This feels luscious.