Creative Rebellion

February 14, 2016

paintGrowing up, I was often sent outside to play. To keep up with appearances, I would lace up my play shoes, and then while no one was looking, I’d sneak a book into the waistband of my hot pink bike shorts. My summer adventures always happened under the shade of a large oak tree by the creek in our backyard. Instead of swinging and running and scraping my knees, I was soaking in the stories of friends who I would never meet and places where I would never have the chance to travel.

“I could never send you to your room,” Mom remembered, “It was a reward for you.” And she was right. Everything I needed was there, my books, my multipack of gel pens, and the stationary I inherited from my late grandfather, Roscoe. I would tiptoe off to the antique secretary’s desk that belonged to my Great-Grandmother Bower and pen works of short fiction about Mr. Mouse moving to the city and the memoirs of Pocahontas. The voluntary solitude of my youth was thrilling for me, the same way that dancing to K-Ci & JoJo at a middle school dance was exciting for some of you.

Sometimes I still sneak away to quiet corners, away from the busyness and expectations that a full and spirited life demands. On too many days that I can count, it’s difficult to find the time to develop characters, and outline chapters, and jot down adjectives that give the pages life. Especially when your life, the one that lives outside the pages of your notebook, is a good one. The day jobs, the significant others, the friends, and sometimes kids, are all amazing and beautiful blessings that require your time and nurturing. But…

Sneaking away to spend time with your art is the most joyous and rebellious gift you can give to yourself.

Liz Gilbert calls this, “Having an affair with your creativity.” Something about that idea is so powerful, because an affair is something for which people always make time. Now, I’m not suggesting that you abandon your wives or boyfriends or relationships without labels – I just want you to have a little fling with your art. Declining a lunch invitation so you can write song lyrics isn’t an act of selfishness, it’s an act of love. Having your partner clear the dishes so you can paint abstract portraits of elephants isn’t greedy, it’s giving yourself the tools to nourish the person you are at your very core.

Sneaking away to spend time alone with your craft is giving yourself permission to be an artist.

Being a creator is a privilege, and with that privilege comes great responsibility. To make the time – five minutes here, five minutes there. It’s totally doable. Many of the world’s greatest works were created in “moments between.” Heck, I dictated most of this post into my iPhone while I drove in solitude from Pennsylvania to New York. Don’t wait for the right time, just find time.

You can always find time for the affair of a lifetime, slinking around in quiet corners to Make Stuff – and to find the joy in these acts of creative rebellion.

Use your words

December 8, 2011

The #reverbbroads11 project has been like one awesome writing workshop. Same topic, forty-or-so brilliantly different responses. I have learned so much from your stories and authenticity. Today Kristen asks, “Why blog? Why do you or why do you like to blog (recognizing that these are not always the same thing)?”

My love affair with words began when I was very young. Mom loves to tell the story about helping me memorize lines for my part in the preschool play. I insisted on carrying the script with me on opening night, because at the age of four, I wanted people to think that I could read. My eyes have been glued to prose since those formative years.

My writing career began in the first grade, mostly recording sweet stories about how much I loved my baby brother. Of course these were all works of creative fiction, which my teachers found to be pretty convincing. Other publications included Mr. Mouse Moves to the Big City (a coming-of-age “tail”) and Mic News, named after Mrs. Micheletti’s fourth grade class and the popular television show, Nick News.

In high school and college I ignored chemistry, not spending nearly enough time with the periodic table of elements or the elements of a good page-turner. So I picked up a writing minor so it would force me to put my pen to paper again.

I wrote original Greek myths about Aquafinius the God of Bottled Water, fictional period pieces about Johann Gutenberg, poetry about my grandmother, and true accounts of deep frying frozen burritos. My creative nonfiction professor told me once that I had the ability to turn the most mundane details into something magical.

But you didn’t ask me about writing, you asked me why I blog.

I don’t remember why I started blogging, but I created my first WordPress blog as a first-year graduate student. While writing always felt natural, being comfortable with my own voice was a different story altogether. My writing was sometimes boring, but many times it was funny, honest, and uncensored. I made lots of mistakes and I probably said too much. I quickly learned that some people really dig censorship and that not everyone is fluent in sarcasm. I foolishly deleted my blog, something I loved, because I was too worried about what other people thought.

Looking back, my first blog’s failure taught me lessons about politics, owning my mistakes, and having confidence in myself. While I am still trying to find a focus for this blog, I know that I want to teach, reflect, and build community. As long as I am authentic and I keep these three goals in mind, I don’t think I can go wrong. So really, why do I blog?

I blog because it gives me a voice… and you know what? I have an awful lot to say.