Foolsgold: Making Something From Nothing and Freeing Your Creative Process by Susan G Wooldridge is a loose connection of very brief essays. Anyone familiar with that author’s Poemcrazy will know what I mean. The longest is still under ten pages. Sprinkled with a few quotes and poems, I thought I was in familiar territory. But where Poemcrazy succeeded, Foolsgold falls somewhat short. If I had read these in reverse order, I would have enjoyed Foolsgold more but I didn’t and I can’t help but compare the two books.
In Foolsgold Wooldridge discusses her process for healing from two losses—her father’s death and her own divorce. She talks about making small collages in little boxes, picking up flotsam and detritus on walks she takes along creeks and in her own neighborhood. But while Poemcrazy is flooded with examples of poems and how she plays with words, there are no images of these collages and her words do not provide the reader with a rich enough vision to appreciate what she is doing. I went to her website in hopes of discovering some examples of these miniature collages but found nothing there.
And this is a shame because there is little a reader can carry away from this book. I didn’t find anything that inspired me to free my creative process. What few creative exercises there were, and there are far fewer in this book than in Poemcrazy, were not stimulating. Or perhaps they simply were not as stimulating as those in Poemcrazy. I don’t know. What I do know is that although there is some thematic connection between the essays, the thread is tenuous, at best.
All of this makes me wonder if it is Wooldridge who has not lived up to my previous experience with Poemcrazy or if I myself have outgrown her writing. Was Poemcrazy really as charming and quirky as I remembered or was my experience with poetry immature? Have I read so many memoir/essay collections since then that a loosely gathered collection of experience no longer serves to interest me? Above all else, do I dare to reread Poemcrazy now, risking the possible disappointment of not being able to go home again after all?
I don’t know. I only know that I wish her web designer would take the time to upload some images of her mini-collages because I am curious even if I am left uninspired by a book that promised to awaken some creative fervor.