Writers — Use What You Have

Hello to all you writers out there, this is Adair Heitmann writing to you on this cold, rainy day in Connecticut. Are you snug, dry, and creating? Recently I had an eye-opening experience. Last year I signed up for The Sketchbook Project 2012. It is this really cool, world tour of contemporary artists’ books. To enter you must choose a theme to use as a take-off point. Silly me, last summer I thought I had all the time in the world to meet the January 31, 2012 deadline. Luckily, when I entered the project my intuition whispered in my ear, “Choose the theme Writing on the Wall.”

Well, last Monday came around with me staring down the blank sketchbook. It was my one day off from work and I had a book to fill. Not letting a time crunch deter me, I remembered waking up in the middle of the previous night with the answer. I’ve been working on a series of haikus for about three years. When I’m inspired, usually by the intersection of mother nature and human nature, I write one. Working on the haikus, on and off, as time allowed, I shared the poems periodically with my writing critique group. I’d re-work them, and place them in my familiar manilla folder labeled “Haiku,” and then file them under “Poems” in my filing cabinet. There they sat until a few days ago.

I brought the folder down to my kitchen table, grouped them by the four seasons of the year, and created an outline for the book. Needing to round out the book I wrote a brand, spanking new haiku, on the spot, and included that too. So the book really was three years in the making, an hour for the outline, and two hours for the artistic crafting of the book. Like a cook who invents a delicious meal based on what is in the cupboard, I used what I had. I parboiled my words, sautéed the right ingredients, set the table, and lit the candles. I completed the book, and mailed it, meeting their deadline.

The Sketchbook Project is all about process, and it sure reminded me that you never know where your words will end up. You just have to trust and believe they will find a home. Before The Sketchbook Project I never thought of grouping my haikus by season and publishing them as a collection. Now I am.

Until next time, keep on writing!

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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Sounds great – I’ve just sent my own off as well this week. I made a bit of a meal of it, I think, but totally worth doing… the deadline produced something in a month or two which is something. Do you have the work on here, or is it locatable on the site yet? Fun to check them all out.
    Everyone’s work is so different, its amazing the effort that goes into it.

    • Rosie: Art House Co-op is still digitizing the Sketchbooks 2012. Thanks for your question because even though I thought I signed up for digitization, they say I didn’t! I’m scrambling now to get my order in so that my Sketchbook is searchable on their site. -AH

  2. Hey Adair, sounds great can’t wait to see it. Such a nice challenge the Sketchbook Project is. Will you be visiting the exhibition?

    • Thanks Naomi. Yes, I’ll see the real deal in Lynn, MA this summer, can’t wait! -Adair

  3. […] Well folks, I just finished my 2013 sketchbook for The Sketchbook Project. The deadline is 1/15/13 and I am way ahead of schedule. Art House Coop started this really cool project – “Together, thousands of creative people from around the world are forming a traveling library of artists’ books.” I participated last year and wrote about that experience in the Fairfield Writers Blog. […]


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