If you haven’t yet visited Maryn’s blog, The Well, please take a moment and drop by at http://www.thewellspringblog.com and you will find it well worth the time. Maryn recently answered questions posed by Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit, and passed those questions on to me. After reading Maryn’s responses I am going to look into this Habit a bit more.
But anyway, Maryn suggested I respond to the same questions.
1. What is the first creative moment you remember?
Kindergarten, show and tell day. I’d forgotten to bring anything. So I told the class about seeing two men with gas cans going into woods where we kids played and built camps. I said I followed them, saw they were going to burn our woods down, and managed to save the day. The kids were in awe (the teacher less so). Even though I was too young to put the feelings into words, I can still remember clearly that moment of realizing something powerful had just happened. Little did I know it was opening my eyes to the strength of a story.
2. What is the best idea you’ve ever had? What made it great in your mind?
I find this question really difficult. I’ve had a lot of good ideas over the years. Such as ‘let’s have a baby’ and ‘let’s find mice in the field and make them into pets’ (my brother broke his nose during that one). But I think to answer this is to talk more about a realization rather than an idea. The gradual realization that I belong in the woods. That there’s something about being in the forest, surrounded by trees, that brings out my creativity and releases something inside so I can write. All my daydreams happen in the mountains.
3. What is the dumbest idea?
Possibly catching mice. Followed by the idea, cemented over many, many years, that I am homely and of lesser value than those around me. I’m chipping away at that cement, but it’s pretty set.
4. What is your creative ambition?
To capture the stories surrounding me and get them on paper before they are gone. To honor those stories and tell them in the way they want to be told.
5. What are the vital steps to achieving that ambition?
Oh, great question. To achieve that I need to value my writing time as being just as important as the things I see as responsibilities. Which also means needing to value myself a bit more.
6. Describe your first successful creative act.
Successful as in finishing a manuscript, having it edited, and putting it out into the public view would be The Memory Keeper. It started as a way for me to answer a question of my father’s, and ballooned into a fictional mystery I didn’t expect. But my first complete manuscript was another mystery dealing with green garnets and Bigfoot (A Place of Wild Things). Someday I’ll resurrect that one and rework it.
7. Describe your second creative act. How does it compare to the first?
The Memory Keeper was extremely difficult to write because I was in the midst of what I called radiation fallout. Just coming off treatments for Lymphoma. The creative side of my brain was dormant as I was in survival mode, and many, many times I thought I would never write again. The anger inside was terrifying. The struggle for each word was unbelievable. Luckily my husband held me up through that. So then the second book, Sparrow’s Silence, was like a celebration, a triumph, proof that words still flowed.
8. Which artists to you admire most, and why? What do you have in common?
For writing, Elizabeth Peters, Meg Gardiner, and Elly Griffiths. Each, in their unique style, have this amazing power to transport me to other worlds. In music, Lisa Gerrard and Loreena McKennitt for the ability to inspire me to write with just their voices. In art, Lisa Hsia (www.satsumabug.com) for her honesty in portraying her struggles and successes in her creativity. What do I have in common with all of these? Not much. But I strive to.
9. What is your greatest fear?
Returning to those days of living with no stories inside.
10. What is your idea of mastery?
My wonderful friend Kathy called me one day, crying, and read a passage to me that had spoken deeply to her. She said it was from The Memory Keeper. I thought she’d made a mistake; I thought, clearly, ‘I didn’t write that’. Then I returned to the book and realized I had. And I thought, just as clearly, ‘where did that come from?’ For me, mastery is those moments when words that have come through me touch someone. I see that as a goal to still be reached.
And now I’d like to follow Maryn’s lead and challenge all of you to answer these questions no matter what form your creativity takes. And let me know when you do so, in order for me to learn from your answers like I did from Maryn’s.