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Naomi Rose : Refining and Being Refined

Refining and Being Refined

On artistic developing — and being developed

By Naomi Rose

In preparation for a writing conference I'll be going to in a week and a half,** I was redoing my brochure, based on a template available on my desktop graphics program. It was the visuals I was seeking to improve: I'd worked on the text for years.

I had found a template originally meant for a catering company, which of course has no direct relationship to my work as a book developer. But the colors were subtle and lovely, in one of my favorite color combinations: purple and green. And so, having been trained as a visual artist long ago, I swapped fonts and exchanged formats, took out the photos of chocolate mousse and popped in my logo, my photo, my text. Getting this just right took more time than I had thought it would. Hours sped by, and still I was there at the computer, finessing slight changes over and over again. When I thought I was done, I wasn't. The next morning I awoke with the obsession to go back to the project, having somehow in my sleep solved a problem that had nagged at me the day before.

I took the project to work with me (being self-employed, I could do that) and poured myself into the refining of the images over a matter of many hours. The steadiness of my concentration was not even an effort. All I wanted was to stay with the project until it was finished to my satisfaction — until I loved it well enough to say to myself, "That's it, no more."

Sometimes this can happen with a written work as well. Refinements are always part of what an artist does. In the beginning is the rough idea, the desire, the glimpse. And then, once something is down on paper (or screen, or canvas), what is there that is imperfect itself suggests the refinements needed. Some people work everything out in their heads beforehand, and putting it down is almost a matter of dictation. Not so for me: I get the urge, and then I have to see it played out to some degree, have to have my hands in it, to move things around and try this and that. I'm sure things would go smoother if I just knew exactly what I wanted and executed it, like an engineer. But though engineering has its place, artistry is something else. There is an interaction between the known and the unknown; and the artist, the real medium of the manifestation, bridges the worlds of the unseen and the seen.

Despite the initial seeming-chaos of this way of creating, there is an encompassing rapture that attends it. You are following something that is leading you, and you don't even necessarily know what it is until it has fully shown itself. Even in designing a new brochure, even adapting a graphics program template, there is that call to beauty that keeps the soul engaged so deeply that time goes by clockless, and the need for physical comforts takes a back set. So I emerged, triumphant and humbled, both, with a lovely brochure that has the same kind of subtlety as my actual work with clients: that degree of nuance and shading, that degree of listening and harmony.

The intensiveness of this engagement, over hours spread out across two days, bore fruit not only in the brochure itself, but — as the visual aspect of what I do grew more and more refined — also in the written description of what my work is really about. For the last 20 years or so, the "tagline" under Writing from the Deeper Self has been "Bringing Your Treasures into the World." I have meant, by that, that the process of truly listening to what is in a person's heart — and giving them the loving space in which to discover that and find the courage to bring that forth in their writing — honors the often-hidden inner being of the writer, and provides an opportunity to shine her or his light by completing the writing of the books and sharing them with others, rather than keeping them in a drawer or never writing them at all.

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