By April Sullivan
We are very excited to have Nicole Cortichiato as our first Artist of the Month for 2022! I met Nicole in 2011 when she submitted her artwork to be part of an artists with disabilities calendar that we were helping DARS produce. (DARS was the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services, now part of the Texas Workforce Commission.) Nicole is an artist living with narcolepsy with cataplexy, which is a loss of muscle control triggered by emotions.
(For more information on narcolepsy, Nicole suggests visiting the website https://med.stanford.edu/narcolepsy/symptoms.html)
When I met Nicole, she was a painter. Her visual art pursuits include drawing, painting, and creating characters. But writing is also a big passion for Nicole. Her work that I love best would be her greeting cards. She calls them “Cards for No Occasion.” These cards are the perfect combination of Nicole’s visual art talent and her writing, and they perfectly showcase her wacky sense of humor.
Nicole has always been a journal writer. When she looks back at her journals, she says they rarely make sense, even to her. She is surprised that writing is the one creative pursuit that she has never tired of doing. Nicole’s writing pursuits include poetry, short flash fiction, nonfiction memoir, children’s stories, plays, and screenplays.
Her first real writing project was a children’s book titled “The Independent Hand,” written in 2010, an abstract story about disability. A girl loses her hand – it just takes off one day. A paintbrush grows in its spot. Nicole relates this to being diagnosed with a disability because you realize you have lost something, but then you realize you have gained something.
Nicole has furthered her writing goals by taking classes at Austin Community College and volunteering in classes at the Writers League and Austin’s Badger Dog. These opportunities helped her grow as a writer. She has written plays for Imagine Art and TILT Performance Group and a radio play for ACC. Her fiction and poetry have been published in various anthologies.
Nicole says writing is like a puzzle, and creating a story is like a game. It must be edited to flow, and you must piece it together by leaving in what works and removing what doesn’t work. Then, figure out how to read it in front of an audience. She enjoys discovering what will make people laugh. Trying to read an audience and know what piece will make that specific audience laugh is tricky.