I Walked My Talk!
How a Memoir About My Creative Father Tested Me But Generated Joy
We all have our talk -- our beliefs or advice, for example, on how to live a good life, have harmonious relationships or master a skill. If there are topics you can get preachy or emphatic about, you know what I mean.
My talk has been quite loud since the late 1990’s.
In the aftermath of my brother’s death in 1996, I found that doing something (anything!) creative helped me grieve a very difficult loss. I took up gardening and worked through complicated feelings by digging up tenacious ivy, planting zucchini and so on. These efforts brought joy.
I also started writing more. This, too, helped me feel better and that’s when my talk evolved.
What was my main message? Creative expression can alleviate complicated bereavement.
But did I walk that talk consistently? Not entirely.
A walloping case of whooping cough flattened me shortly after my father’s death in 2005. I had no energy to create anything for quite a while. Once I felt better, I drafted some poems and prose but I never really did anything with them.
When my mother died in 2008, I walked my talk by designing a book that combined some of her creative writing with family photos. It gave me great joy to share In Her Words with my friends and dwindling family, and it did help me mourn that loss.
Shortly after In Her Words was published, I was determined to pull together a similar book illustrated with my Dad’s photographs and paintings.
Assembling a Life: Claiming the Artist in My Father (and Myself) is not the book I first envisioned. The process of writing, editing and then producing a full-length memoir with loads of colorful images was an extreme test of my patience. (And patience has never been one of my strong suits.)
Were there times when I wanted to give up? Absolutely. Were there times when I had to manage frustration with some of those who helped me trudge the distance from initial manuscript to paperback book? Oh yes.
Now that the book is in print and available for purchase, I am glad I stuck with this project to walk my talk. I still miss my dad but one of many gifts I got from spending this much time “with” him is that we have a deeper connection now. Pure joy.
If you don’t walk your talk, your words may be at odds with your actions, and that can be a killjoy. My talk suits me, and I think it’s a good talk for others, too. But what I’ll get up on a stump and preach about is that it really pays to walk your talk.
Comments on this blog post are welcome — see the bottom of this page.
Assembling a Life is available to purchase at my website.
Please note: You won't find this book at Amazon.com. Call me a maverick but in order to keep the price of a book filled with art and photos manageable, I am not selling it via Amazon at this time.
Prompts For Joy
Click here to get on the ice with a four-year-old.
(Perfect timing, Cassie Murray!)
Click here if you need a nudge of inspiration to do something creative.
My father, Geoffrey Clark, the way I like to remember him.