Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Artist Date

A few times in my life, I’ve bought an issue of Vogue magazine -- the September fashion issue (invariably their “Biggest Issue Ever!”) -- to see what was in, see how far out I was, and gauge how I felt about that. Always, I was 90% out-of-style, and 90% okay with it.

My most contemporaneous brush with high fashion was a time I recognized it on someone else -- on television. Circa 1990, Vogue had filled its September issue with plaids -- and not long after, there was Murphy Brown's Corky Sherwood, costumed in a fitted plaid blazer lifted right off the issue’s pages.

But as I’ve been encouraging my creativity, I’ve found myself seeking out the September issue every year. I bought it at Border’s this week, where a seventysomething checkout lady barely managed the leverage needed to drag its 840 glossy pages across the barcode scanner. “Only $4.99?” she marveled. “It’s all ads,” I said.

At least for the first 300 pages -- editorially, only the table of contents, editor’s letter and masthead appear there. But the creative ads make the issue so much fun! I like the 8- and 12-page spreads that sometimes build into little narratives ... and I like noticing them excerpted in 1- or 2-page Cliffs Notes versions later, in other magazines.

It seems that every writer knows about Morning Pages, from The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron -- three pages of handwritten, stream-of-consciousness writing done first thing every morning, intended to clear the mind. But few writers acknowledge Cameron’s twin creative tool, Artist Dates -- solitary playtimes intended to repopulate the mind with pleasing images and energy.

When I reached page 51 of Vogue and saw the ad of a young woman resting on a woodpile in a barn -- dressed in couture! -- and caught myself wondering about her backstory … I realized this issue is going to be a terrific Artist Date.

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