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The Graphic Side of Me

Spring 2023

There are days, of late, when I dearly miss the days of my technical writing. Not the tech-writing per se, but the assembling of the engineering reports that I jubilantly whipped together in the Office World of Yore.

The maps, diagrams, charts, photos — all were inter-spliced with text. I was a one-woman spec-finesser, double- and triple-checking the facts with the graphs, the inspection findings with previous data, and then coordinating all of that accurate information into a tidy finale called The Report.

I can still recall the minor uproar that I caused when, without proper authorization, I changed the Roman paragraph numerals in the text — MCMLXXXVIII — to Arabic numerals! The not-sanctioned alteration was nevertheless accepted as cost-effective.

Little did I know back then, during the 1980s and 1990s, that I was training myself, in many ways, to compose my novels. My Muse knew. She was, and remains, in complete concurrence with a statement made about me, Debra the Tech Writer, by a structural engineer to a geotechnical engineer:

“Don’t let her think: it slows her down.”

The assessment was made as a compliment, and I took it as such. Woe to the unwise person who took — and takes — me for a dumb blonde.

I’ve started a new phase of my creative life, one that takes me back to those years of tech-writing, and even before those pitifully salaried hours. Drawing and painting have begun to take precedence over the art of writing, although, in reality, those arts are all inter-related. My sewing projects over the past few months formed, more or less, the bridge to my past leading to the future.

During my years of living in Washington, D.C. I associated with artists of various genres, musicians and painters mostly. I was attempting to fit into a group, an alliance of creative spirits. I soon found out that even among artists, I don’t fit in. I learned much from them, but the most impactful lesson was the awareness that I will not surrender my autonomy to The Group. Even among artists, I choose to be alone.

I’ve displayed a marked unwillingness to join any commune of creators. The prospect of taking part in a quilting guild (by invitation) sent me running the other way!

I’ve consequently renounced garnering the sense of unity that supposedly comes from being part of a group. Maybe I don’t seek unity. I can opt for harmony, but that idyllic state is ephemeral. Basically, unity comes with a cost and, more often than not, the unity isn’t real and the cost is detrimental to my sense of self.

Unity is an illusion because the individual must, inevitably, face the music on her own. She must fend off, on her own, those slings and arrows of life, of reality. Bear in mind, though, that the Supreme Artist watches over every one of us.

You, the innovator, must possess belief in your unique talent. That belief must guide you to wherever it is you wish to go, or, more accurately, wherever your Muse must take you.

I was alone, and isolated, during my childhood years and well into my early adult years. That circumstance was beyond my control, and I knew it. I therefore, with the help of My Muse, and with the benevolence of my Maker, turned that woeful condition to my advantage.

I cannot state exactly how I did it because my actions came naturally, reflexively, instinctively. I will declare that the graphic side of me, the part that draws the pictures in my mind, is that instinctive gift which has served, and continues to serve, as my Northstar.

Once upon a time, the graphic side of me gave up painting to compose NORTHSTAR. I journey, once again, to my cherished touchstone. Within each person, there’s a Polaris, waiting to be heard, and seen, to guide your true being to its destiny.

Reaching for the stars starts with undertaking that solitary act of courage — of realizing the magnificent person you were born to be.


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