My Creative Habit in Ten Questions

by Rebecca A. Watson on July 4, 2014

in Art, writing

As a journalist, blogger and marketer, I’ve done many interviews in my life. It didn’t dawn on me until several years into them that someday I might be the one answering questions. In the past week I’ve been invited to an interview (more on that in a few weeks) as well as to answer the questions below.

Maryn over at The Wellspring Blog sent these my way, and I hope you enjoy the answers. Of course, you’re invited to participate as well, either through the comments or on a blog of your own. Post the link on her blog post and let me know as well!

1.  What is the first creative moment you remember?  

Let’s see, I’m sure there were others before this, but I don’t remember a lot of my childhood so I’ll go with one that really sticks out in my mind.

When I was 11 our fifth grade teacher read us the myth of Pandora. You know, the lady the gods made with all their talents — brains, beauty, strength, yada yada — packed into a human body. They sent her down with a box as a gift maybe?

At any rate, she was a curious one and wondered what was in the box and opened it, letting all of the evil into the world and closed it before hope could escape. Don’t ask me why in god’s name that box even existed, but it did. And so goes the story of why bad things happen on our planet.

After my teacher finished reading the story, I was so upset I couldn’t keep it to myself. I raised my hand and said how ridiculous it was that the gods sent that box in the first place and how did they really know it was a woman that did that and how typical anyway, for them to blame a woman.

From there I decided to rewrite the story the way I thought it really happened. I gave it to my teacher and he was pretty impressed, but more amused than anything. Could you imagine an 11-year-old who has just discovered she’s a feminist writer? Ha!

laura and rebecca

Feminist in training. Me and my sister Laura on the left 🙂

2.  What is the best idea you’ve ever had? What made it great in your mind?

To start blogging eight-plus years ago. It took a loooooong time to see myself as a writer, an artist. If I hadn’t had this blog, it would’ve taken even longer. Plus it’s saved my life and gotten me jobs, so yeah, best idea so far 😉

3.  What is the dumbest idea? 

That everything I wrote had to be perfect before I could show it to anyone.

4.  What is your creative ambition? 

To help people (including myself!) through writing, whether it be blog posts, articles, writing prompts, books or even comments on other people’s blogs.

5.  What are the vital steps to achieving this ambition? 

  • Listen to my heart
  • Embrace my fears
  • Let go of perfection
  • Write what the Universe whispers into my ear
  • Have the guts to publish it
  • Actually tell people I’m here (for someone who owned her own marketing business, I certainly am not good at marketing myself)

6.  Describe your first successful creative act.

I wrote a poem at 15 years old that was published in the Duluth News Tribune, which was a pretty big deal for me. (I scanned it awhile back. You can see it here.)

haiku queen

I was also haiku queen at camp that year, but now I’m just bragging.

7.  Describe your second successful act. How does it compare to the first? 

I wrote an essay at 16 that my teacher heralded as perfect. He posted it on his wall so people could read it to know what, in his mind, a good essay contained. At this point I was one of the last kids to not have a computer, so the essay was handwritten, which some students thought I should’ve been docked for.

It was different than the first because it was more personal. I heard what people said about my work because the class was right there in front of me. While the newspaper went out to a larger audience, I didn’t hear the criticism like I did with this second one.

Additionally, obviously it was prose versus poetry. I like to think I’m good at both, but prose comes much more naturally and the editing process is much easier for me.

8.  Which artists do you admire most and why? What do you have in common? 

God, this is a question I don’t know if I can answer. There are so many artists I love. I’ve been told more than once I have a lust for life, so it’s hard for me to pick just a few of anything: Prince. Quentin Tarantino. The Cohen brothers. Elizabeth Gilbert. Ray Bradbury. Ani Difranco.

Melodie Beattie. Justin Timberlake. Augusten Burroughs. David Sedaris. Rhianna. Steven King. Jon Stewart. Johnny Depp. Salvador Dali.

the_persistence_of_memory_1931_salvador_dali

Wes Anderson. BeyonceLupe Fiasco. Eminem.

I admire the ability to not only produce a prolific amount of work but to also be able to evolve and change over years. There are a lot of really great artists in the world. I have a wild appreciation for them, even the ones who burn bright and fast.

But I think it’s amazing to see people who create something that really works and then watch them turn around and do something different even though they seemingly have figured out the formula for success.

I also think there is something very real in all of the art these folks do. It might not be in every single thing they produce, but often when I read, hear or see something from the above artists, I get this tingling over my whole body. This sort of thing has happened my whole life when I’ve witnessed art that comes right from the soul, untempered. When I feel that, to me it’s the true meaning of resonance.

Do I have that in common with them? I like to think that over the past few years I’ve become more real in my writing. I try very hard to keep a light hand on editing and shut down my censor as much as possible. And I’ve definitely put a lot of work out over the years, and it has evolved and changed.

beth and rebecca

Much like my fashion sense. Oh lord, is that hypercolor?

We’ll just have to see how I handle success, if I’ll still be willing to strike out on a new path or if I’ll cling to what works. I’d like to say, based on my past, that I’d let go of the sure thing and strike forever onward but who knows?

9.  What is your greatest fear? 

That I won’t have the courage to step out into the world and do what I’ve been put here to do. Writing is a vulnerable thing if you do it right, and helping other people means telling the stories that most people are even afraid to whisper.

And it’s not just telling those stories. It’s climbing up on a big hill and screaming them across town. While you’re naked. And that takes a lot of courage. Sometimes I worry that I won’t have the guts to open up, to strip down and tell the stories that the Universe is trying to tease out of me.

10.  What is your idea of mastery?

I don’t know that mastery exists, really. I mean, yes, of course you can be really good at something. You can be an expert and have spent thousands of hours (what’s the conventional wisdom? 10,000 hours?) doing something and really become excellent at that one thing.

But when I think of people who are really good at something, they’re always passionate about it. They’re always interested in learning more or finding out what they’re doing wrong or discovering new theories. It’s never ending for them.

And everything a human can be passionate about is truly multi-faceted. Could you ever really master music? Or a language? Or even a niche like mountain bike suspension (shout out to my hubby!)? There is always something new to learn, some new twist in the fabric of things.

Mastery to me indicates sort of a king-of-the-mountain attitude, like “I have mastered the German language.” (*in sing-song voice* I doooooouubt it!) It feels arrogant that one could possibly think you’re done learning or that you know it all. And it feels a little sad too. I never want to find out I’ve learned all the ways to use all the words.

As Maryn wrote, this is an excerpt and some of the questions have been combined for brevity. Find the complete list here. And you should definitely check out her blog too, which is full of great ideas, recipes and good writing.

Any of these questions resonate with you? Answer one (or all of them) in the comments or on your own blog and let me and Maryn know. This is a fun exercise 🙂

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Maryn July 4, 2014 at 5:12 pm

Girl, you just took this to a whole new level! I love that you included photos and took us on such a journey with your responses.

I want to put this on my wall:
“Writing is a vulnerable thing if you do it right, and helping other people means telling the stories that most people are afraid even to whisper.”

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Rebecca A. Watson July 4, 2014 at 10:07 pm

Awwwwww thanks lady 🙂 That means a lot!

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