As you know, I am passionate about keeping family stories alive. Last month, I had an article published in the local newspaper about a community initiative called “My Story is the Peninsula’s Story.” The Palos Verdes Library District is sponsoring an historic program to scan and upload photos and texts representing life on the Peninsula into a digital archive. If you live in the area, I would encourage you to send something in so your story can be preserved and handed down to future generations. You can read my article here.
Writing this article made me happy. It was a nice break from pitching agents and publishers for my book. I haven’t landed an agent yet and I am feeling discouraged by the process. I know rejection is a part of being a writer, but it still hurts! I recently decided to pitch some independent publishers to see if they would be interested in my book, and I am exploring self-publishing too. In the meantime, I have submitted some short essays to journals and anthologies, and plan to write more newspaper articles. I will keep going!
It sounds cliché, but it’s true that when one door closes, another opens.
While I was feeling down about my publishing prospects, I read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. Her message about creativity and the mysteries of inspiration resonated with me. I heard her and Rob Bell speak at a workshop on Memorial Day and Liz said that we are all innately creative beings. Our lives become a work of art because “no one else has done us before.” In order to be creative, you don’t have to create something that you can hold or see. You can live a creative life by making decisions based on curiosity rather than fear.
My friend Tracey Yokas also wrote a blog about Elizabeth Gilbert’s workshop and you can read her wonderful post here.
I decided I would try living creatively by getting curious and taking an online fiction-writing class. I’ve been considering turning a part of my book into historical fiction or a true-life novel, and I finally decided to jump in. It’s been so liberating and fun! I have been getting deep into my protagonist’s head, and thinking about her desires and goals, and how her misbeliefs get in the way. It’s a very different way of writing than I’m used to and I like it! I might fail, but I am choosing to take a risk anyway.
Living a creative life, then, doesn’t mean you have to create a masterpiece or write a book that ends up on the bestseller list. It simply means choosing curiosity over fear and being open to inspiration and change. Creativity is parenting a difficult child. It means taking care of elderly parents.
Creativity is living our unique lives day in and day out. It is very simple, but sometimes hard to do. I will try to practice living creatively because life is too short to live in fear.
One creativity exercise that Liz Gilbert suggested was to have your great-grandmother write you a letter. Your great-grandmother would probably say that you have an option to have a public voice that she never had. Your remaining silent is a crime against them and their forced silence. Women didn’t get a chance to express themselves in public in the past, so do it for your sisters and daughters.
The next exercise was to have your great-granddaughter write you a letter. Your great-granddaughter might say that because you lived a creative life, you changed something or someone’s life. You exercised your voice and regardless of the result, you practiced courage and modeled it for her and her generation.
These were powerful exercises for me. It gave me courage. What do you think?
Do you think you live a creative life? What has inspired you recently? As always, thank you for reading and sharing!