Minot writer paints pictures with words

Writer adds painting to list of talents

Submitted Photos Maddie Barnes starts a new acrylic painting, surrounded by her needed supplies.

Using words to create a picture for the reader is just like using paint to accomplish the same thing. Writing is an art of its own, and a young Minot writer has a way with words.

Maddie Barnes has been writing since she was 6 years old. She remembers just being creative and enjoying writing. “I just wanted to do it,” she said.

Her writing has ranged from poetry to short stories, and right now she is working on a novel that will become a series.

Poetry is one of her passions that she writes often. Her favorite way to write is using freeverse.

“It doesn’t have any boundaries,” Barnes explained.

The topics of her poems vary, depending on whatever comes to her mind, like love, seduction and pieces of life, just to name a few.

When she wants to experiment with other forms, she uses “aa, bb, cc,” and several others. The amount of different rhyme variations is large, giving her a pool to choose from.

Each poem has its own story to tell and feelings to share. Barnes keeps them separate so she and her readers can find something unique in each one.

She wrote a 15-verse poem about the Arlington Cemetery in Arlington, Texas, in the sixth grade. Her great-grandfather, grandfather and her father all served in the United States Marine Corp. She said her great-grandfather served in WWII. Because all three of them served in the same branch, she wondered if they would all be buried in the Texas cemetery.

In commemoration of her family members, she wrote the poem on her own. Barnes said it turned out to be that long because she had a lot to say.

One of her motivators for starting poetry was hearing the poem “To This Day” written by Shane Koyczan. The main topic of Koyczan’s poem is bullying and how that can permanently affect someone’s life.

“Bullying is in our schools and it’s one of the reasons youth commit suicide,” Barnes said.

However, it wasn’t the theme of the poem that got her started. It was the style in which it was written, like a poem one would hear at a poetry slam.

She writes about topics that aren’t commonly talked about or are considered “taboo.” One of them is suicide.

“Everyone is scared of death and terrified of the inevitable,” she said.

In her novel she is writing, the main character commits suicide and her main goal is to have a better understanding of where she is, which is in a place that is between life and death but not quite purgatory.

In a twist of words, Barnes calls it a “slice of death” novel, instead of a slice of life. Slice of life stories are about life with a hint of comedy, what happens to the characters and often have a love interest. She said she mixes in some humor to lighten the darkness of the novel. In doing so, she took something cruel and harsh and turned it into something digestible, and possibly something that can the readers could find something to relate to.

Her short stories usually have their own topics, standing alone like her poems. They’re not just limited to one or two genres. She’s well rounded, writing horror, fantasy, science fiction and creepypasta, which is a story based around a myth or a legend and is turned into something horrific. One story she wrote was about mythology and another was about the faye creatures.

Short stories are what she has been writing the longest. Some of her characters are inspired by characters in the session of Dungeons & Dragons. If she likes the personalities of the characters or just who they are, she will use them as a base for a character in a story.

“It opens up a window to someone else’s thoughts,” she said. “It’s like a little token of them.”

Coming up with an idea for her characters doesn’t always come as easy as making personalities for each of them.

Another talent she has is painting with acrylic paint. Barnes prefers the gloss of acrylic paint when it dries over the matte finish when oil paint dries. It also dries much faster and allows her to continue painting and add ore layers if needed. She said she does eventually want to learn how to used oil paint.

Like her girlfriend, Hannah Tiedman, she loves to create art. Barnes will ask Tiedman to draw something for her, and if she wants to paint it, she will use the drawing as a reference.

“When it comes to writing and creativity in general, your mind and imagination are boundless,” she explained. “It takes a little bit to explore your mind before putting it on paper, so why stop? Creativity is such a blessing to have.”

If she ever gets stuck, she and her girlfriend will bounce ideas around, talking about where Barnes wants the story to go, what kinds of things she wants to happen and how they happen. Tiedman doesn’t just say that the story is perfect because she knows that Barnes wants to exceed that perfection. A couple of Barnes’ life goals to get her writing published and participate in a poetry slam. She does follow different poetry slams online.

Once she gets published, people will get to know her, just like she learned about the authors of the novels and other works that she has read. It’s been something that she’s been wanting to do for a long time and she is determined to reach that goal.

Barnes started writing because she wanted to have her own voice and discuss the kinds of topics that “people choose to be ignorant about or just aren’t talked about at all.” She wants to change the way people think about how those topics affect lives. She’s brave to bring light and understanding to those subjects.


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