Putting It All Together

How do you put together a creative life?

First, a status report. My next deadline is at the end of the month, when I have a Folkroots column due. I thought this might be the one in which I wrote about the myths and legends behind the Narnia novels. But that will take more research than I have time for now, and I still have to think about what to use for illustrations. So instead, this month I’m going to write a brief history of monsters. I think that might be interesting, right? Then, I need to complete the Secret Project, and I also have a dissertation chapter due. Yes, that’s a lot, I know. But what wonderful projects they all are. You’re really going to like the Secret Project, I promise.

And in the meantime, a very nice thing has happened: my story “The Mad Scientist’s Daughter” is one of the storySouth Million Writers Award Notable Stories of 2010. Here is a lovely review of the story.  I’m especially glad that people seem to like “The Mad Scientist’s Daughter,” because I love those characters and want to tell more of their story. There is so much more that they’re going to do . . .

But back to my question. How do you put together a creative life?

I asked myself that today because sometimes I wonder if I’m straying too far from writing in this blog. After all, it is supposed to be a blog about the writing life. And there I was this week, writing about face cream. But you know, I think at some level it all fits together. I want to create a life for myself in which I’m productive, and in order to do that, I need to take care of myself. I need to eat healthily, which is not at all easy for a writer. Last weekend was a long weekend here in Massachusetts, where Patriot’s Day is an actual holiday. I spent the entire weekend writing. Some nights, I was up until 3 a.m. And I found it very hard to eat healthily. I found myself substituting food for sleep. That’s another thing I need to be productive, sleep. And not just sleep, but rest. I need a quiet mind, and quiet all around me. (That’s why I wrote a blog post on appreciating silence, which will be broken at approximately 9:00 tonight, when Ophelia comes back with her grandparents.) And I need to feel well and happy in my own skin, which is where the face cream comes in I suppose. It is when I feel most confident, and most as though I’m being the self I want to be, that I do my best writing.

And in addition to taking care of myself, I want to take care of my surroundings, to make them beautiful, unique. I want to create my writing and living space. So I blog about going to antiques stores, to thrift shops. It’s all part of an effort to create an environment for myself that allows me to focus on writing.

So I think you put together a creative life out of small things. Or at least I do. Out of a rock that says BELIEVE sitting on my desk, where I can always see it. Out of just the right brand of cheap pens. Out of a collection of thrift store cardigans, brown and gray and rose. Out of an annoying cat. Out of a bowl of acorns picked up in a park.

And you put together a creative life out of all the intangible things I also write about: making choices, and taking risks, and searching for beauty wherever you can find it.

I suppose that’s why this blog can seem so scattered sometimes. Because my own creative life is a continual process of bricolage, of putting together things that can seem disparate in an effort to create a greater whole. But that’s what a writer does. A writer is a sort of bricoleur, always putting together the material of life in an effort to find meaning. As I attempt to do here.

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One Response to Putting It All Together

  1. Maery Rose says:

    I enjoy reading about your journey as a writer in all it’s diverse paths. I gave up a long time ago trying to stay focused in my blog on any one particular thing. But then my blog is more about the journey I’m on, trying to figure life out after divorce. That wasn’t my intention starting out. And it is about finding my creative niche because of all the things I love doing and writing about.

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