I’ve always been one of those writers who said they “heard voices” and didn’t see pictures. I could tell you how my characters felt but not what they looked like. Even my dreams were primarily auditory and not visual.

During my month of play I gave myself the same sleep intention every night, “What stories should I tell?” I didn’t even mention a character’s name because I didn’t want to influence my subconscious. For a few weeks I had no response. None in my dreams and none in one of those moments of inspiration that come when you least except it. I just kept on doing what I was already doing. I couldn’t say that I trusted the process, I just hadn’t invested anything emotionally in a particular outcome.

After a few weeks of practicing mixing colors and playing with various texture techniques, I was surprised to find myself thinking in pictures and not words. Now considering my fears around not writing and wondering if I would ever write again, this might have made me even more afraid that my silence was permanent and not just a passing pause. But instead I found it invigorating. Laying in bed, waiting to fall asleep and I would wonder what would happen if added a glaze of burnt sienna or dripped some India ink across the half-finished collage that waited on my desk. I saw myself grabbing a handful of colorful papers and gluing them willy-nilly and watching a sunset explode in front of me.

Making art was changing the way my brain worked.

A pair of haiku for today.

paints tales only I can hear
when I close my eyes

silence sits with me
I am unafraid. Art sings,
colors hold my hand

Susan Taylor Brown.
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