Monday, June 22, 2009


Change seems to be constant. This summer means a lot of changes for me.

1. International move. I just moved from China to Germany. Even though I've moved 5 times internationally, it is always a complex challenge.
(I am now able to get on this blog again; it had been blocked for the past month.)

2. Another language. German is easier than Chinese, especially because I can read the words. I hope to be speaking within a month because I had German in high school. I already had an eye appointment, and communicated okay.

3. New climate. From tropical (hot and humid) to continental, which must be colder than normal. I'm wearing a jacket because it is only reaching the 60's during the days.

4. Summer always means kids home from school. It is fun, but alters my writing schedule immensely.

5. New advisor. A new semester means a new advisor. Uma Krishnaswami was incredibly wonderful and I'd love to work with her longer-- on both picture books and other creative writing besides picture books, but in a few weeks I'll turn in a list of several potential advisors and get paired up with another great VCFA advisor. Happily, they are all good.
(Vermont College of Fine Arts has a new website--check it out!)

6. My writing. I won't decide exactly what I'll work on next semester until I find out who my advisor is. I might work on the novel I drafted during my first semester. Or there are many other interesting projects that I could work on.

Learning to deal with change, learning to invite change, learning to embrace change, is so critical to the writing process.
Change of some sort was needed in one of my picture books, but it wasn't clear what to do; so I took what Uma told me, looked at the possibilities that could resolve the issue and decided to alter the setting. It only took three words, but the whole texture of the book is different and it is more vivid now.
Changing the setting or a character triggers a domino effect, and if the change is carefully thought out while revising, the story becomes stronger.

Change in life is kind of like revising stories. Both are challenging, and can be enjoyable if we don't resist the changes and are willing to take risks and explore.


Angela said...

I hope you are keeping a journal! It is great for capturing the "new" of a new country. Because after awhile ... the things we notice at first are just part of everyday.

I'm amazed that you picked up German so fast. I thought Chinese was easier, but I didn't try to write more than numbers or read more than a menu. But it was so nice not to worry so about verbs. I felt like with Chinese I could say a lot with few words. In German...things seem much more complicated!

Sarah Blake Johnson said...

The "new" is only new at first. I take photos and write stuff down.

I had German in high school--that's why I'm picking it up so quickly.

Marita Siddal said...

I find nothing more invigorating for my creative flow than change . . . I'm a tad jealous! Best of luck to you as you settle in!

Sarah Blake Johnson said...

Thanks Marita. All the best to you with your MFA program. If I come early to my residency one of these times, while you are still on campus, we'll have to meet.