Written by Grace Guindon
Throughout the years The Bridge has had the pleasure of receiving writing and artwork of al kinds from many passionate and inspiring artists. These people have created wonderful pieces of work that we proudly display in the journal, however while flipping through the pages and observing or reading the content, some must be curious of how the artists designed their piece. As a writer, and armature artists myself, it is fascinating and educating to see and hear about how other artist reach their finished product.
I have reached out to some of volume 17 & 18s artists, asked them some questions and had them walk me through their creative process. I interviewed people who published on different mediums: creative fictions and nonfiction, and drawing. Below I discuss and analyze the ways these different creators end up with a publishable piece of work. These processes could help anyone wanting to write or create their own work or provide a tip or two to include in your own process.
Some questions I asked the artists are “what is your creative processes from idea to being finished” as well as “how do you know the piece is done”, in addition to many others. Thank you to all the artist who participated.
Caitlin Faria published two stories in the volume 17 Bridge journal. One creative nonfiction name “All I ordered was Orange Juice” and the other fiction titled “God”. Faria is currently in her third year at BSU and will be graduating in the spring. She majors in English with a concentration in creative writing, as well as a major in Communications with a concentration in film, video, and media studies. She enjoys reading and writing stories and screenplays, watching and making movies, playing ice hockey, as well as hanging out with friends, family and her dog.
“God” starting on page 56:
“I never imagined that my fresh new start at my fresh new job in a fresh new state would turn out like this. To my right, the dead body of a woman hangs in the trees. Her body is lifted by rope and her arms are out so that she looks like a cross. To my left, her husband, God. Not the real God, but he’s what people consider to be as close as you can get. His real name is Officer Godesko, but everyone around here calls him God. I don’t know if it’s just to shorten his last name or if it’s for his morals. Maybe it’s for both. The way everyone refers to him is always so nonchalant and comfortable.” …
“All I ordered was Orange Juice” starting on page 85:
“There was a lot happening on the day of Papa’s funeral. At least there was for my family. We all had to meet up with each other, go to the funeral home, drive to the cemetery, and watch as the color drained out of our worlds. It’s weird thinking about that day—knowing that to the vast majority of people, it was a normal day. They woke up and ate some cereal. They watched some TV, maybe a movie. They went to work. They were probably bored most of the time. I don’t remember ever feeling as exhausted as I was that morning. There weren’t any thoughts— no “I can’t believe he’s gone” or “where do I go from here?” It was just all blank. That had never happened to me before. My thoughts were usually racing. That morning, they were completely silent. I got dressed and went upstairs. I didn’t eat cereal. I didn’t watch TV. There was no work to do. We just had to get in the car and go to Rockland. So that’s what we did.” …
Caitlin Faria’s Writing Process
To Faria she gets her initial ideas from all sorts of places. She says that she usually has a personal experience connected to what she is working on because she believes it’s important to write about what you know. Faria likes to show authentication in her stories. When she gets her ideas for a story, she will often times write them down on her phone as a note. Faria then steps away from the idea, so it has time to silicify or grow.
Once she has let the story sit for a bit Faria will create a simple outline and then starts writing with those ideas in mind. However, for Faria this part of the writing process is very fluid and often changes. She lets the plot go wherever “feels best and most natural for the story movement.”
As any writer knows, editing is a very critical step in the process. For Faria the first thing she focuses on is looking at the piece as a whole. Then, she will go through and fine tune anything that goes well with the plot or adjust what she does not like. A great tip that Faria provides is a process called “close the open doors” and explains it as taking the story and breaking down all the details so by the end all the doors are closed, and all the information is present. In addition, Faria likes to have others read her work and uses their feedback to further revise. In her first year at the University, Caitlin learned a trick for the best way to use critiques. She reads the feedback but gives herself a day to let it settle and process it and then she’ll use that information to go in a revise.
Completing a story can occasionally be difficult according to Faria. This is because as writers and fosterers of stories we want to make everything perfect. We will keep adding and adjusting concepts until it’s just right. Faria knows her story is finished if “the characters are developed and relatable, the plot is believable, and the setting is described enough to allow readers to immerse themselves.” Faria find the hardest part accepting “that [her story] is okay to let it go and send it out into the world if I choose to do so.”
This is a standard process for Faria; however, she says that this can vary depending on the story.
There are times that the idea we had for a story or artwork does not come out as we first hoped. But what do writers do with their undesired story? Faria tends to keep the story in her drive and her idea on a list. She believes that sometimes it just needs a different plot or characters to be successful. Even if the story does not come out as she would have liked, Faria doesn’t toss it away because to her it still has potential.
When Faria is finally done with a story, she will feel many different emotions. She says that she feels rewarded for completing a project, and when it is something, she is very proud of shell be excited and proud. However, sometimes if the story is exposing and vulnerable, she gets nervous and stressed. Even though she might feel that way Faria likes to remember that her stories are “out there to ultimately help people and that as much as [she] needs to hold some integrity in what I decide to share with the world [She] Also needs to remember that what [she’s] doing could really change some people or at least help them have a better day.”
Here is some additional information directly from Caitlin Faria herself:
“On a whim, I submitted two pieces to The Bridge for the seventeenth volume and they both got accepted. I had been going back and forth as to whether I should go for my bigger goals or do what I felt was safer and being published in this journal was the last straw that told me to go for it while I got it. After a beautiful conversation with my mom, I switched majors and it has been the best decision I have ever made. So, thank you all at The Bridge for getting me to where I am today without even knowing it.”
Amanda Merola published 2 artworks in volume 18s journal, one named “Portrait of Sam” with black and white charcoal and the second “Growth is Beautiful” also with charcoal. She is a senior here at BSU and is pursuing a degree in studio art with a concentration in graphic design while also minoring in management. Some of Merola’s interest include reading, visiting art museums, and spending time with family and friend. She loves working on logo designs and creating charcoal portraits. Merola says that two of her favorite artists are Andy Warhol and Vincent Van Gogh.
Amanda Merola’s Writing Process
Merola says that she gets most of her ideas from her imagination. They start as concepts and then she deliberates how these ideas would look as a sketch. She mentions that she gets a lot of her inspiration from the world around her like current events, music, and media.
After her initial idea Merola writes out a plan of actions for how to go about creating this piece. Following the concept plans, Merola begins some rough sketches. While doing so Merola keeps notes, smaller sketches and anything that comes to mind while starting the idea.
Once there are some sketches down, Merola evaluates if the piece is conveying the concept and ideas in an effective way. If she decides it is not working, she goes back to sketching and comes up with some modifications. She again checks whether it is doing what she wants and if she satisfied, continues the editing process by having others critique it and provide feedback. She takes all this information and makes any additional changes she thinks are necessary.
Merola says this a standard process for most of her artwork. She does mention that she makes art digitally and on paper, so depending on the medium the editing process can vary.
Merola will check the “completed” box on an art piece based on how she feels about the artwork. She does not have a set of requirements that she needs to achieve but rather thinks that “you will not be satisfied with the final outcome even if you have seemingly done everything right on paper.” Merola does not often have a final piece that she does not like because she will try and make changes before getting to that point. However, if she does, she goes back to the sketches and tries to make changes until she connects with something.
Completing a work of art gives Merola a wholehearted accomplished and proud feeling. The process takes a lot of time and effort, and she finds it fulfilling to create a successful and meaningful piece of work. Looking at a finished product allows the artists to see the payoff of all their hard work. Merola recalls the late nights and attention to details and thinks about how “nothing compares to the feeling [she] gets seeing the final product.” Not only does she feel these emotions, but she also hopes that other feel something when looking at her work. Merola points out that even if people don’t feel anything positive that’s okay because “meaningful artwork should make people feel moved and make people feel something that resonates deep within them, something that they take with them and keep in their memory.”
Here is some additional information directly from Amanda Merola herself.
“I would like people to understand that being an artist and creating artwork is not as simple and easy as one might think. There are societal stereotypes that artists are lazy, do not have any real goals, and are just “taking the easy way out.” These misconceptions are harmful to artists and belittle the work that we do. I have had people, both people that I know and complete strangers, ask me if I was going to school for art because “it was the easy thing to do.” I have had people ask me how I could possibly make a living as an artist. I have had people tell me that I am going to regret going to school for art and “going down that path” because in ten years I will be broke with “no real-life skills.” All of this is harmful to artists and to anyone considering making a career as an artist, especially young kids and teens just beginning to discover their passion for art. Aside from being harmful, these statements are simply untrue. Being an artist takes hard work and patience, and anyone in the art field can be successful and support themselves financially. There is a certain stigma about artists that needs to be dismantled or else this world will slowly lose the creativity that keeps people truly alive.”
As a great Professor has told me, reading stories such as the ones Faria has written and the millions of stories that exists, we read and create/view art to widen and enrich our human existence. As writer and artists who put their work out into the world, they want people to read their stories, to understand its meaning, and gain something in return for consuming their work. An artist gains two things from producing work, something for themselves and from others.
While art and writing are very different types of expression, they both are very similar in the way they can convey emotion. Both artists that I interviewed responded with related answers for what they want others to gain from reading or viewing their work. They want people to feel something ad to take the work they have done and use it for themselves. It in a way is almost self, both for the creator and the audience.
Art is not something definitive. While there is the purpose of the author, everyone viewing it has their own unique experiences and perspective influences how they regard the work. Where one might see sadness and ending, one might see a new start and inspiration. To each is their own, especially when interpretation meaningful imagery or stories. Not only is this the experience for readers but we can see that in an artist’s creative process, like the ones above. The creative process is different and unique for each person. However, there is a basic structure that goes as fallows, inspiration forming an idea, drafting, or sketching, editing, and finalizing. Along the way, however, we see how different approaches and aspects are valued more or less. As was said in on of the interviews, the process of writing or making art is very fluid and is a back-and-forth flow.
Many see art and writing as an escape and way to gain a wider field of sight. Personally, that is what I think makes art and writing so special. It really is a beautiful thing to see how your work can influence others and have an impact on them. The writers and artists who submit to The Bridge are all unique and wonderful for showing us the world of their imagination.