Keeping the Wonder in your Work
By Maile Sundquist
In 2013, I began writing a fantasy/sci-fi novel set in Japan. I am currently working on the final draft of and illustrations for the first book of the trilogy. I have never taken a proper writing class outside of high school, so it’s been quite a learning process, but an entertaining and engaging adventure too. Although I’m a quarter Japanese and I love the aesthetic (which I use in my home), I realized I knew very little about the culture I was writing about outside of a college class on Japanese art history I had taken, so I decided to become a student of all things Japanese. I started with reading books I came across, and then took my studies to a higher level by taking inspirational field trips. I went to the Seattle Asian Art Museum to learn about ink block drawings and to the Bellevue Art Museum to learn about origami history and to get visual ideas for the drawings I’m adding to my book. Next it was off to the Japanese Garden to experience a tea ceremony and the Zen landscape, then onto the Hanami, Moon Viewing, and Japanese Cherry Blossom Festivals to experience Japanese culture, art, philosophy, music, food, and more. Note pad and camera in hand and filled with childlike wonder, I soaked in every sight, story, taste and sound I could, and in doing so, came into a greater appreciation and understanding of the world of my story. Since it is set in the future there is room for interpretation, but my studies gave me motivation and inspiration and they kept my focus on my novel and the art I would create for it, which were the most important things. I had to remind myself that it was important to balance my study time with time actually writing my novel, as I could easily immerse myself for days in research, and that it was merely a means to an end and not my main objective. I encourage you to embrace wonder, and look outside your imagination for inspiration for your creative pursuits by way of nature walks, reading, personal testimonies, or interaction and creative field trips. It enriches your life and feeds your soul while motivating and inspiring you in your artistic projects, and adds a depth to your work that might not have been there otherwise. Be a kid at heart, a student for life, and view the world as your personal classroom and playground. Life and creating is an adventure! Enjoy the ride!