Merry Christmas – Christmas: A Time For New Birth

Merry Christmas friends. Thanking God today and everyday  for you all. And wishing each one of  you a day filled with friends and family, love and hope, peace and joy.

And rest for your weary souls.

Today I am honored to be at my friend Diane W. Bailey’s blog telling a Christmas story filled with memories and gratitude. You are invited to hear a story that brings me joy to share. Click the link to read……and Merry Christmas with love and rejoicing. ( Oh, and it is snowing on my blog. Did you notice.)

button logo 600px

Part Two – An Interview With Claire Burge In Which We “Spin”

Maybe one of the most wonderful parts of submitting questions to Claire about her book “Spin, Taking Your Creativity To The Nth Degree” was experiencing her generosity of spirit.  So generous and so gracious that this interview is in two parts. Yesterday’s portion of our “conversation”, our repartee across the sea may be found here. Follow the link to read Part One.

Who wouldn’t want to know more about the soul of a writer, a creative who tells her readers on page 19 that they will find stories, tips, life lessons, and “a heart”. Ah, she had me at page 19. Well maybe before that.

Here are a few of my favorite lines from Claire:

“Creativity needs to be fascinated in the presence of the things it doesn’t quite understand yet or maybe ever.”

“In tenderness creativity finds a texture.”

“Curiosity and creativity need to meet for tea more regularly.”

&

“Creativity needs to become a child again.”

Ah, Claire in her own words.  Do you see now why I wanted to ask questions, to probe deeper and to ask some more “why’s” and “how’s”?

Elizabeth:

bio pic

I love pages 150 and 151. This seems like a very helpful and healthy inventory for everyone to take. It seems that a significant part of the book is about being brave and bold, sort of as a sub-plot. Would you agree that being able to push through set-backs, being brave in life is one of the more valuable pieces of the creative puzzle. If so, then this book is even broader than a book on creativity. Is it a book on having a brave spirit? We as readers can extrapolate much from this in our own lives. I would recommend this to anyone, not just one who sees themselves as “creative”. We are all, in fact, aren’t we?

Claire:
1493025_452391284872795_210936248_n

Your question about braveness and boldness really got me very excited. More than anything I wanted this to shine through without being direct about it. The fact that you call it a sub-plot is an honour. Boldness has been the single charachteristic that has taken me very far in life. I get so frustrated with people who speak down on themselves, who makes excuses, who give 1000 reasons why not. Honestly, I sometimes want to shake them and say: “Jump! It’s a hell of a ride (which include a few falls) but your soul will love you for it.”

Elizabeth:

Doubling back on the idea of memory, memoir and remembering, did you recall things from your younger self from pure memory, or from journalling? You may have addressed this in the book, forgive me if you did. Since story is an important part, and recalling is vital, did you rely on memory. Again, I think for all of us, for anyone, taking stock of “watershed” parts of our lives is important. Interesting how some seemingly “small” events or times end up being “big” and “important”. I am thinking of the chapter on ritual and the sound of the cocoa tin. Did accessing the past take a long time in preparing the book? You may end up addressing that in #1 under the book’s genesis.

Claire:

I am a very nostalgic person which made the digging and the recalling a very easy process. I did not struggle at all. I asked my mom a few questions through the process to connect some of the vague dots in my mind but for the most, the memories are very vivid in my brain fibres! I am an only child and my parents deliberately chose not to have a TV in the house when I was growing up. That combination makes for a very powerful memory and imagination developer. I had to invent all day long to keep myself occupied. When they eventually bought a TV when I was eleven, I spent a total of 15 minutes in front of it and then went back outside to play because the two dimensional world it presented me with was terribly boring.

What was difficult in the process of recall was finding my younger self’s voice. I kept reverting back to adult tones and I had to be very conscious to write with the voice of a child, recalling through the life of an adult.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++

Where creativity is found: in that beautiful, brilliant space called being. – Claire Burge, page 39 “Spin”

Even revisiting my own questions and Claire’s answers increases my  bold and brave with regard to creativity.  As I prepare to tackle my creative projects, namely a poetry chapbook and “another” sort of book, I feel my courage increase and my timidity wane. Maybe one day I will look back and thank Claire for contributing to my own creative tipping point. Maybe one day I will hold “Spin” in my hand, not as a prescriptive or a “how-to” but as a book of encouragement. A book to help me get to the Nth degree of my own creativity. And for each of you, as well.

Creativity needs the edge. I am up on the bike, flying down the drive, through the air, over the edge and into the mess again, and again, and again. – Claire Burge pages 19 and 20 of “Spin”

Thank you Claire. Thank you for taking us to the edge, encouraging us to be brave, for trusting us with your stories, and above all, for showing us your heart. What a fun and wild ride it has been.

++++++++++++++++++

Claire Burge is the author of “Spin: Taking Your Creativity To The Nth Degree”. Published by TS Poetry Press,  It is available on Amazon.

Claire’s Bio: Part chaos. Part rocket fuel. I head up the international company Get Organized in Ireland. I take photos of food. I ride a downhill mountain bike. I’m known to bite into life. Straight talking, solution-finding, productivity nerd, and very tech-savvy are some of the terms most widely used to describe me.

Connect with Claire at Claire Burge dot com, Get Organised dot co and find her on twitter @Claireburge

1420037_452391331539457_1225287888_n

+++++++++++++
button logo 600px

Taking “Spin” To The Nth Degree – An Interview With Author Claire Burge

I am not a professional interviewer. I am a poet, writer, noticer. And I love stories, people and getting to the soul of a person. To dig deep, to ask questions, and to uncover things that are buried. To mine for more.

So really, as you will see, I am not terribly adept at interviewing authors. But I so love finding the poetic soul of a project.

I first met Claire Burge, or rather I have only met Claire, virtually, through the community  at Tweetspeak Poetry. Her book “Spin: Taking Your Creativity To The Nth Degree”  was recently published by TS Poetry Press and a group of us are having a delightful time discussing “Spin” in a Tweetspeak Poetry bookclub.

I think that Claire would be more than okay with my beginning this post by saying I have not thought of myself as being creative until very very recently. And I imagine the author of “Spin: Taking Your Creativity To The Nth Degree” would be thrilled to know that she inspires me, encourages me and challenges me. This is certainly not about me. But I, like many, saw other people, especially family members as the “creatives”. And I lived on the outskirts. Defining myself not as a poet, writer, noticer, as I do today. I was void, by self-definition of anything  creative. Operating out of other parts of my brain and heart but not self-identifying as creative.

You will see in Claire’s own words that it was for someone a bit like me, well maybe a lot like me that she penned this unique book So I am grateful to have her take me and all of us on a journey of exploration into creativity. If you are trying to maximize your own God-given creative potential, if you are hoping to organize your ideas for a dream book into something manageable, or even if you just love people, interesting and passionate people, then pull up a cup of hot cooca, Claire would, and join me.

This really is about Claire, in her own words. And it is really especially about “Spin”. What a joy to sit in my home and have this woman described as “part chaos” allow me to ask her questions. To dig much deeper into her book. And to have her, there in Dublin, respond so graciously. Her answers are so in depth and thought provoking that I simply cannot edit her.Well, I can’t edit myself or anyone very well for that matter. Well maybe my mother’s book which I helped edit. But that’s another story.  I do love stories, detailed, nuanced and intriguing.

Maybe that is why I loved “Spin”. Claire’s words and Brian Dixon’s whimsical and wonderful illustrations make the pages of this book perfect for doodling on, dreaming within and digging into. And send you  out on the other side knowing more about who and what you are as a creative being.

Elizabeth: 

fb profile

Claire, I love the way in which you weave your unique life thread of your story, of your journey, throughout this book. It speaks to me particularly well because it is not a prescriptive for creativity, but shows us through the art of story how everything, every part of our lives feeds into the creative “us”. What a beautiful picture you paint throughout. There could be a tendency to see, on the surface, a story,  as seemingly “unrelated” to a book on the creative process. But boy is it lovely how you show us the connectedness of these tender places, chapters, in our lives. How everything is related to who we are as creatives.

Elizabeth:

I am interested in the birth of the book, how the concept came about. It is so unique. Did you start with the concept of memoir? Did you look back on your life and story and see the places and times of your life which imprinted your creative self the most? And then go from there. Can you speak to how the book was “born”. I would love to know more of its genesis. And as a part of that, did you set out to write a blueprint for the creative process, or did it just grow organically out of memoir writing?

Claire:

  1420037_452391331539457_1225287888_n

The Genesis
The genesis of the book is an interesting question because it speaks to the creative process in and of itself. Now that you have asked the question, I see the genesis of the book happening in three stages spanning many years.

The first started way before I even realised that I would ever write a book on the topic of creativity: I dated a very talented creative. He was musically gifted. He won numerous awards for his drawing, sketching and painting work. He could sculpt like few could. He was an all-rounder creative if you will and it simply emanated from every fibre of his being. I never created around him. I retreated completely into the left hemisphere of my brain and only emerged many years after our break up. I turned to business and figures because that was one area where he was weak. I never realised this at the time but I did many years later when I had to confront my own creative-in-hiding.

I believe we’re all creative. I really do. We sometimes make choices that either nurture or dampen that creative inside of us. This relates to the genesis of the book because the reader I had in mind when I wrote the book was not the accomplished creative who feels that they are at the pinnacle of it all but rather the person who feels inadequate enough to even have a dialogue with that creative inside of them.

I also did four things:

1. I categorised broadly the lessons in my life book that I have been keeping since I was 15. Creativity emerged as a category in which I had penned many lessons.

2. I sent a Facebook message to a number of people who I would deem creative with the following questions:

a. What would make you buy a book on creativity?
b. if you did buy one, what would you like to find inside?

3. I considered why people have called me creative over the years. I recalled conversations and I jotted down at a high level the words that had been used in them.

4. I looked at various self-help books for their structures and then chose a blended approach from all of them that I felt would meet my audience and the material itself.

Now the above is what I would call the conception of the book but it morphed radically as the writing got under way. Brian and I decided to work alongside one another rather than work in two separate phases. So, I would write a few chapters and send them on to him. He would then illustrate and I would give feedback. During conception, the vision had very much been to keep the illustrations as a “support” to the book itself but by chapter 10, I realised that the illustrations were more important than that. For me, Brian and I are very much co-authors rather than illustrator and author.  Without his work, the book becomes rather prescriptive and that is the last thing I want it to be.

You asked about memoir and whether I set out to write a blueprint for creativity: it was never planned as memoir but I realised very early on in the process that I am in no way the go-to expert on creativity and I never intend on being that. I definitely did not want to write the blueprint. I did not want to write a self-help book.  I wanted to share a story with the hopes of uncovering other stories. I want my story to ultimately fade into the background as the reader’s story becomes their compass back to their inner creative.

+++++++++++++++

Join me here tomorrow for Part Two of my interview with Claire.  I will share with you some more of Claire’s responses to my “digging in” questions, my favorite part of the book, and an excerpt from the pages of “Spin.” I have also written a review on Amazon. Click on the link below to order your  own copy of  “Spin” or to send it as a Christmas gift. And check out my review while you’re there.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Claire’s book Spin is available here on Amazon

Her websight may be found here at Claire Burge dot com. And follow her on Twitter at @claireburge

1493025_452391284872795_210936248_n 1481318_452391358206121_254668533_n

 

A Few Things I Learned In November

One of the things I love about blogging is writing in community with  writing friends. One of my favorite “writing groups” is over at Chatting At The Sky where Emily Freeman just comes up with such clever ways to write in community. For a few months now I have been participating in her monthly wrap-up where we share “A Few Things We Learned…..” during the previous month.

Here is my wrap up. I may have more fun here than you. So if you don’t have a hankering (great Southern word) for random things, or if you don’t like lists, step away from the computer now. Or stick around and see if you are up for a little November list of what I learned in the last few weeks.

1. I may learn more about humanity, spirituality, kindness, the human condition and what it means to be part of the “sea of humanity” when I visit the Dollar General than anywhere else. I have seen, heard, and witnessed some amazing things in this little place. And I  have written about some of it here.  I am very likely to write more about it in another post. It is where I am getting some of my best “writing inspiration” as well as where I meet some really neat people.

2. Sometimes you can touch a soul by “paying it forwards” or “sideways”.  After lunch after church last week, as we were checking out of another little store in our little town, we noticed an elderly woman had forgotten her money and was unable to complete her purchase of an allergy medication. She left the store without her medicine so  we picked up the tab in an effort to help. My daughter ran out to the parking lot, gave her the package and told her we understood as we have allergy sufferers in our family. That one small moment reminds me to pay attention, to be available in the small things, and some of life’s sweetest lessons for our children are taught in the classroom of the real world. True that? And that her gratitude and reaction will never be forgotten by one teenage girl.

3. Sometimes you cannot fathom in your wildest dreams (well that is a bit of an exaggeration but hey, I am going with it) that you would get a song stuck in your head repeatedly. Well now said song has a new version which is on you tube which now allows you to have the song stuck in your head 23/7 and the cool video version from the Florida State Accabells. See what you think. And tell me how many times you want to watch it. Be honest…

4. True Confessions….this little girl has stolen my heart. I love the look of the little boy beside her who doesn’t get a word in edge-wise, not one, because she totally steals the show. I learned that there are some advertisements that just totally knock it out of the park and I might stay in the room, and turn up the volume and  enjoy the ad more than some slash most television shows.

5. I have just finished a 12 week writing workshop over at Tweetspeak PoetryIn the
“The Writing Life” my expectations were surpassed ya’ll. In every way. And I met some of the most amazingly talented writers. Trust was developed, friendships made, and a writing group was formed, consisting of women spread out all over the country. From coast to coast, literally. On those days when I want to throw the internet under the bus, an opportunity comes along to provide me with a virtual classroom and the internet is redeemed. I am once again amazed at the ability it has to make my world better and smaller. On a good day. As in the last 12 weeks. I am a believer. For now. I am also apt to change my mind. Ya’ll if you have an opportunity to join a workshop at Tweetspeak, go there, do that, and then come back and tell me how over the moon you found it to be.

6. Have you ever heard a word cuter than peabiddie. Yeah, me either. My good friend Shelly Miller, who blogs at Redemption’s Beauty sent me a message last week in which she recommended a read a book by Flannery O’Connor entitled “Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose”.  Shelly,  who lives a hop skip and a jump from me, knows my love of “Southern voice”. She may not have known that I have a mild obsession with peacocks, which paired with my obsession with words is a match made in heaven when you stumble back on the word “peabiddie.” Ya’ll it is too precious. I learned when a friend, especially a writer friend suggests you get your hands on a book, get you hands on that book. And discover how well you are known.

7. The night that you want to skip your new “bible study” which isn’t a bible study but rather a couples group which is studying a book on simplicity is always the night you were meant to be there. So I learned again that your internal desire not to so something will align in direct proportion with the ways you will be touched and impacted and changed.

8. Many slash most experts recommend blog posts not exceed 500 words. That means I may have just lost many of my readers back up there on an earlier number and so I should wrap things up here.

9. I need the “bible study” I am taking on simplicity.

10. And I am reminded again of my love of poetry which may help my prose in terms of brevity and word economies. Just saying.

11. People never really grow tired of being thanked properly.So…. Thank you for being here. You have a hundred and one things you could choose to do with you time. Thank you for choosing to be here.

12. If your husband invites you to go for a walk in the mountains, down a road that you’ve never been down because you are guests of friends at their mountain home which you have never been to, GO. When he says he wants to show you the rabbits he found on this road, he meant it. He means it. And you will have the beautiful opportunity to feed a rabbit the carrots you brought on the “rabbit” walk.

bio pic