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.
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.
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?
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.