In which Theresa draws back the curtain on her sketch-a-day exercise

Do you make mistakes?  Do you allow yourself to try something even if it seems unpolished or raw?  Recently I’ve been reading a few writer-friends’ blog posts in which they shared their thoughts about their writing or their creative struggles, which were raw and unpolished.  I so admire their courage to do so!  Wouldn’t we all rather show only the good stuff, the finished work, the writing we are especially proud of?  But because I have learned much from these courageous writer-friends’ divulging of their mistakes or start-overs or trial-and-error writings, today I am sharing a post from my private journal, one of my “sketch-a-day” exercises, with you.  It’s not pretty or finished in some places, but maybe by publishing it, we will connect, over our mistakes, or over the experiments we try in the pursuit of art.  Here it is.

Sketch-a-day exercise

I made up this exercise for myself.  How does it work?  First I find a photo image (Creative Commons Flickr) suggested by a line of poetry from the Poetry Foundation‘s Poem of the Day.  Then I do a trace-sketch of the photo image and I also write a brief (100-200 words, or less) piece inspired by the photo and the poetry line.  Finally, I write a short reflection on what it was like to write and sketch for this day’s exercise.  Here is my most recent one.


Sketch by Theresa Barker.

“Amber husk/fluted with gold,/fruit on the sand/marked with a rich grain . . .” -H.D., “Sea Poppies”

She comes from Church Street in Bethlehem – Pennsylvania.  Not unlike the messiah.  Her people were mystics, born in the 1850s (parents), the 1820s (grandparents), but only on her mother’s side.  The father’s side is all science, an academic astronomer.  The father moved the family away from Salvation Street when she was nine.  With only brothers, she became radicalized for feminism.  She blends her artistic and religious inspiration through her mother’s line to become a recognized female poet and writer among the expat literary Americans in Europe and England in the early half of the twentieth century.  She takes on a new mysterious poet identity, “H. D.”

Lover to Ezra Pound early on, but confined by him artistically and then betrayed by him romantically, she seeks a woman lover, Frances Gregg, but eventually she is betrayed by the woman Gregg and Pound both.

It is the thrill of a golden sight on the beach that inspires her poem “Sea Poppies,” and it is the thrill of a golden shell that inspires my writing for today.

Day 32.  Seashell.  Ah.  This imagined bio of H.D. started out well, then … petered out.  Oh, well, that’s how it goes at times.  At least I learned more about H. D. than before.  And what a shame! – that she let Pound edit and criticize her poems.  Such a struggle it is to be a poet, now, or back in her time.

Sketching – I was surprised to discover the curves on the seashell are not just half-circles when I drew this.  They “hop over” the top of “horizon” of the shell, upper part.  I didn’t really do this justice, but I’m learning!  I have to be more forgiving of myself and my efforts.  I liked doing the contrasting shading, though I see now that wasn’t quite the exact effect from the photo, but that’s okay – now I know.  And I liked the little squiggles I did on the page of writing in the background.  That was good!  🙂

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


What did you think? This is an imagined biographical sketch of H.D. (poet from the early-to-mid 20th Century).  I sometimes like to read a little about a poet or author, and then write my own imagined biographical sketch of the poet. I suppose it’s practice imagining a character’s point of view. It’s fun for me! – that’s mainly why I do it – often writing feels like WORK and not like FUN – so, I revel in this!

Do you have a routine for yourself of a small creative practice?  Or do you try to make everything count toward a final product?  There is no one “RIGHT” way, so relax – no one is judging you.  – This is what I often have to tell myself.

Thank you for listening to my small private sharing today!