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: 

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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

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Redemption Outside The Shadows – A Mighty Fortress

Today is Day 18.

There is a book written by a friend.

Her story is her’s but she is brave and bold in her sharing. Her desire for other’s healing.

Her heart longs for a collective healing from the disease that pounces and robs.

As I work my way through the book, its a work of the heart. I think of the spokes of my life’s wheel, the intersection. The place where broken shows up in our lives.

How the spokes radiate out and poke holes in wholeness. Push through places, bruising flesh, heart, soul, and mind. Our life.

This is a labor of love, this working my way through her words, treading lightly and gently through a fragile piece such as this.

You know that God worked redemptively and tenderly through the hearts of these. So you rush not in, to speak. No quietly with a reverence.

You nod and bend and bow to the boldness. You open up a burning heart for truth.  Hungry for healing. Searching. Longing. Looking for places that reveal God in and all around.

And I am seeing,

How her story is uniquely her’s. It is.

How it intersects my life. It does.

What I am left celebrating in her story. So very much.

I have not completed winding my eyes through the lines of her heart and life, laid out in hope in the telling. I know much from her beautiful book trailer, other’s words about her words, the proclamations of healing on her web sight and on her blog.

A story goes out and forth in its telling, testifiying of a work, magnifying the redemption and hope. Doubles down and  carries on its back those who tell of the wounded’s hope.

Like the pointed metal spokes that roll on rim of traveling tire time, the pointed tips of Emily’s time in shackles rolls right over where we’ve treaded, my co-travellers. Those I love.

I know of  gaunt and rail thin, pushing back from food, leaning in to porcelain rims, throwing out a single calorie breath mint to forgo the stomach-bound disc.

And souls locked in weak weary battle of control. Left wounded, weak. Weary.

But all that’s hurt and broken diminishes in the Light of honest, light of the telling.

Where story walks out new life, while scars are healing, scars close up at the hands of The Great Physician.

My daughter is almost 17 and I look questioning into the eyes and onto the bones and flesh of her friends. Speaking into her beauty, inside and out. Loving the wholeness and relationship with nourishment I see.

She is passionate about life and living and her hopes and dreams for the future. She has not known a weakened war of wills with disease or addiction. But a mother watches and prays and hopes for wholeness in her child of mind, body, and spirit.

The happy faces beam over greens and fruits, protein, sweets, a balance of all the goodness  He provides. The energy drawn from food sources, from the good gifts He gives for nourishment.

And I know the weak and weary from cutting off the calories, reducing down the intake to a slow and painful walk on barely enough. The damage unkown exactly to me. I could ask Emily, ask  a doctor, ask the authorities.

I want my daughter mighty and strong. I want the highest and best for her life.

I long for her to see the beauty and completeness in what God created in her,  formed in her woman flesh. That taking it down and whittling it away to thin frail gaunt is not a life goal. Not an elusive idol, to be rail thin and shadowy.

We women can go and do much in a day, there is loving and living for us, mighty work. God work. God ordained.

Emily is a beautiful friend. I want her words to go forth, her words, a healing ministry.

I long for her words to be available in church libraries, school libraries, counselor’s shelves, on the bedside table of hurting women and teens.

Yesterday Duane wrote a piece you really do not want to miss at his place and at Emily’s
blog. It’s here. It involves the pain and struggle of a teenage boy.

As a mother of boys , I long for healthy body images for them too. Read Emily’s words here:

Chasing Silhouettes is intended to be a spiritual guide to help families redefine body image, as well as to offer insight for caregivers into the minds and hearts of those battling an eating disorder. As someone who battled  anorexia nervosa, both as a child and as an adult, I am here to offer you hope. Our young people, our loved ones, do not have to be defeated by the lies that permeate culture today. But in order to defeat these lies, we need to understand truth.


Please leave a comment to be entered in a drawing for two copies of Emily’s book. You may choose to comment on why you’d like a copy, or simply speak to what’s on your heart on this subject. I will email the winner by week’s end.

To purchase Emily’s book go HERE

Or Here or to Chasing Silhouettes web sight to read more.

From the web sight, read these words of hope:

Chasing Silhouettes: How to Help A Loved One Battling an Eating Disorder is the story of a broken family that finds healing through an eating disorder. It’s the story of how even good Christians need redemption, and how eating disorders pervade all homes- even the seemingly perfect ones.

A unique resource, it addresses the whole of the illness: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual, providing shocking insight into the disordered eater’s mind that no other book will offer.

This is Day 18 in a 31 Day Series. To read the collective go here or the 31 Day Series page at the top of the page. Today’s word is Healing.

If you’d like to follow all posts in the series and those published at wynnegraceappears, subscribe to follow by email or in a reader. I post daily in October and several times a week in other months.

Its a JOY to think of having you along on the journey.

Joining Michelle at Thought Provoking Thursdays.