Notes From The Writing Life

Posted on by Sandell Morse

This afternoon, I visited artist Katherine Kadish in her studio. On a wall, a large painting made of smaller paintings, each one a two foot square– nine in all. Katherine is known for her use of color, something that has become even more important as her eyesight wains. I love Katherine’s references to the natural world, vines, twigs, petals. Katherine explained that each painting worked independently; yet, all nine formed a whole. I couldn’t believe what she was telling me, couldn’t believe our work was converging like this. I blurted. “That’s exactly what I’m doing.”

But I couldn’t have articulated that until that moment.

Katherine pulled out two chairs. “Tell me, more.”

I spoke of my essays, each part travel, part history, part memoir, and each one written to stand alone. Yet, I was understanding that each essay was part of a larger whole. I’d thought in terms of traditional narrative, looking for an arc. But somehow I knew that wasn’t right. Now, I knew I wanted a book that would work as Katherine’s nine squares worked, individual squares speaking to one another, and at the same time, forming a whole. The essays are related through repetition of characters, time, place and theme. They will flow as Katherine’s vines and twigs flow, as the thoughts inside our heads flow, as art and writing flow inside the same stream.


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