The Mind of an Artist 

By Heather Lynn Shorey







A System




A System
a form or structure abstracted into a transferable function

Come in. Leave your thoughts at the door. Take your shoes off. Stay awhile. May I take your coat? Would you like some tea? I have some tea. Come in. The fire is nice. You may sit by the fire and warm yourself. We will talk, have ourselves a visit. I can make cucumber sandwiches. It can be proper. We may look out the window, if you prefer. There is much to say in silence. Would you like that? If we simply looked out, spoke in silence? Come now. You'll catch cold if you stay by the door. It's chilly, come. Don't forget, leave your thoughts behind. You're home now. mINd of an artist.




the application of a form across disciplines 
[to relocate]

When you walk into the dark place, something happens. Something is triggered.

I invest myself.

That trigger sends a message, an inkling I follow, telling me to find the next link in the chain.

I keep doing this until I can see behind me, but not before me. I make the space bigger this way.


a text organized alphabetically
[to alphabetize]

It's messy. Every time I look around I say, “I really ought to clean. I'll feel better.” But the mess looks insurmountable. I stare at it, try to think it clean.

I hear my mother's voice, “One thing at a time.” With which thing do I start?

Sometimes it talks. I listen to what it says, start with that. Before I know it, I am deep into the mess. I do not want to leave it. Seduced into becoming. Possessed. Obsessed with seeing, making, finding the way it's supposed to look, feel, taste, smell, sound.


a composition based on contradictions of opposing forces 
[to juxtapose]

I'll tell you about sleep, a necessary nuisance. I do not want it, but need it. It takes me away from life, yet they tell me it improves life’s quality. But how and why could a thing that takes me away from what I love make the thing better? How? Why?

I wake in small silent beginnings. In those moments, I do not want to wake up. I want to stay asleep. In those moments I love sleep. I tell the girl sleeping, I'm sorry.

I'm sorry, I say.
For betraying you.
For doubting you.
I know now you know good.
I believe you.


a book organized according to a sequence of days or seasons
[to sequence]

Unicorns and Monsters exist because they need to fight each other. Someone needs to win.

This is how they coexist. If they didn't, they would—

No one wants that.

This is why kids made up a game, A.D.H.D.
Attention. Deficit. Hyperactivity. Disorder.

Grown-ups had failed them. They needed to win.


composition defined by a significant omission or removal
[to remove]

Brother and I did not own toys. We poor. Played outside with sticks. What we had.

One day, found treasure. Shiny in rust, squealed, “Pick me! Pick me!

We lucky to have found nail over stick. Stabbed in things. Dragged 'cross things. Something terrible.

Because we poor, had no shoes. Brother stepped on nail. Went in foot. Doctor. Something. Tetanus shot.

We too young to know. Poverty. How squelched joy, gave dis-ease.


a text written over another text
[to write over]

Why do they make me put on this swimsuit?

Why do they want me to walk back and forth in front of them?

I turn away. I don't have to see them to know they are staring at the cellulite, the girth of my thighs. Wondering how, why a girl would look like this, not like other ones—small, slender, how they're supposed to look.

They ask, “Why does she wear this swimsuit?

Why does she walk back and forth in front of us like this?”


a comprehensive arrangement within a narrow frame
[to collect and arrange]

The one who loves me.

The one who does not leave me.

The one who says, “Beautiful. I understand. I love. It has changed me. I see it different. What I couldn't see, I see. You understand. You see. You were looking, too.”


fixed procedure with unfixed result
[to try]

There is a soft spot inside the body. I keep the body to protect the soft spot.
When exposed, it relishes freedom. It becomes over-ambitious in its excitement to explore.

Sometimes the soft spot gets bruised, trampled, sliced and diced.

I've had to spend many hours at its bedside.
I say to the soft spot, “You mustn't do this again—go off like that without reservation.”
The soft spot says, “It's worth it.”


Heather Lynn Shorey received her BA in Anthropology from Columbia University in New York and her MFA in Writing from the School of The Art Institute of Chicago. She has and continues to work in a variety of theatre/film projects throughout Los Angeles, New York, and Chicagowriting her imagination on paper, bringing her characters to life.

© 2015