Posted March 2, 2014on:
Last December, my creativity buddy, Susan Guild, asked me to participate in her phenomenal monthly ‘Wake Up Your Magic’ tele-share live call. During the tele-share, Susan brings together various folk to talk about creativity and staying inspired during the pursuit of one’s dreams. Susan also invited Wendy Fedan, an artist and newly minted author. When the three of us got on the phone, it felt like a homecoming. I listened with interest as Wendy talked about how to follow the “nudges” we get from the Universe to move toward our creative dreams (what she calls “following Divine breadcrumbs”), and the importance of persistence in pursuing long term writing projects. I also fell in love with the title of her new memoir, Wearing My Weird: In The Great White North and knew I wanted to invite her here.
Wendy is a freelance designer and illustrator. She has been a professional caricature artist since 1992. Wendy is also a creativity coach and leads ‘Create-A-Way’ workshops that explore the relationship between creativity and spirituality.
Wearing My Weird follows the adventures of a twelve year old Wendy as she navigates a painful transition with humor and compassion. It is about self-acceptance and renewal. It is the first in a three book series.
I’m so happy to welcome Wendy Fedan to The Practice of Creativity.
- Tell us about your first book, Wearing My Weird. Why did you want to write this book?
My first motivation, when I was twelve, was to write about the most important thing that ever happened to me – moving from one country to another. But as the years passed, it became more about capturing this moment in history – this snapshot from a period in my life when I was a child battling between feelings of hope and insecurity. It’s an important period of my life, I realize, as I look back – more important than I realized. I’m thankful that I wrote as much I did about it as a child going through it. Thanks to my writings back then, I was able to recapture the voice of my 13-year-old self and bring her back to life in this series, giving her the spotlight she always wanted.
-How did you get bitten by the ‘writing bug’? Did you always wish to become an author?
Yes, I always wanted to be an author – even before I knew how to read. I remember looking through books, wondering what all those marks meant. Not just the words, but the punctuation and even paragraph structure (Why were some paragraphs big and some only a few words long?). I remember watching my father reading and understanding how powerful books were – again, before even knowing how to read. And when I finally learned how to write in the first grade, I immediately raced out of my gate and wrote as much as I could. I tested my bravery by even reading my stories aloud in class in the second grade. That was when I knew writing was my favorite thing in the world. I loved the act of sharing my ideas and stories with others, entertaining them with my words, and making them understand me in my own quiet way.
-Can you talk about the role of persistence and the support you received from your writer’s group that helped to make WMW a reality?
Persistence is essential to writing. You always hope the book will magically write itself while you go on with your life, but it doesn’t. You have to make the effort to sit down and take a bit of time out to record your thoughts. Then you have to be willing to go back to what you’ve written with an open mind and learn to edit yourself. And edit again. And edit again. Sometimes the act of writing feels like I’m creating an endless work in progress. And thanks to the magical technology of self-publishing, even after publication you can continue to edit your work.
I’m thankful to my writing group. With the help of my peers and teachers, I’ve learned how to edit my own work. And the group has also given me a sense of accountability. We as writers need some kind of group around us to help give us accountability and encouragement. Otherwise you’re just a lone writer, with nobody around to lend support or encouragement. It’s hard to find motivation in a secluded lifestyle. We need writing peeps.
-You manage to pack a lot into your day! You are a consistent blogger, freelance designer, illustrator and creativity coach. How do these activities feed into each other and you?
Blogging has become my new form of journaling (I always wanted my journals read anyway), so it’s been a wonderful outlet for me. When I discovered blogging, I felt a light from heaven open up, and I thought, WOW! THIS IS FOR ME!
Freelance design and commercial art in general (as well as caricature work) has helped pay the bills for me. Art has become my meat and potatoes job. That makes me very happy. When I made the choice to go to art school, I knew I was deciding what my meat and potatoes focus was going to be. I didn’t want my writing to be my meat and potatoes focus. Writing was too precious to me. Writing is too spiritual to me to become my day job. I like my job focus to be the way it is now, and I’m happy things have worked out that way for me!
As for becoming a creativity coach, this is something I have just begun budding into. I’ve begun leading workshops and retreats to help others get in touch with their creative and spiritual selves because I know how important that is. If more people were in touch with their intuition and creativity, we would be much happier people. I feel like doing this kind of inspirational work is my own way to give back what God has blessed me with. I have to share what I’ve been given, in hope that others will find their own special connection to God and creativity. I’ve begun speaking to schools to promote my book and to inspire kids to write. This has been one of the most rewarding experiences ever for me.
-You advocate a DIY approach to publishing and encourage other writers to explore self-publishing. What have been some of the benefits and challenges of this approach?
The benefits of self-publishing are enormous:
⁃ You don’t have to rely on an publishing editor behind a desk to tell you whether your story is good or interesting enough for the world to read.
⁃ You can make your dream happen. NOW.
⁃ You don’t have to adjust your story to death to satisfy a publisher (there’s a point where it stops being your own book).
⁃ You receive a much higher royalty.
The challenges of self publishing:
⁃ You’re on your own… for everything. You’re responsible for your own book’s editing, cover creation, and marketing.
⁃ You can’t just be a writer anymore. You need to learn how to network and promote your work effectively. That means you have to get out of your shell and actually talk to people. If you are a writer who likes to speak, you’re in good shape! If not, you have a challenge to face – and I recommend Toastmasters, BIG TIME, to help you overcome that challenge!
-What is the best writing tip you’d like to share?
The best tip I can give regarding writing is not to give up. People ask, “What is the cure for writer’s block?” The answer is “TO WRITE.” Write anything. Write gibberish. It doesn’t matter. Edit yourself LATER. Just get it out on the page.
Your story will never write itself. YOU have to write it.
So please… just write it down.
As a Cleveland author, Les Roberts, says, “Nobody else can tell your story.”
To find out more about Wendy and to check out her three book series of Wearing My Weird, visit her site
Happy Valentine’s Day weekend!
Do you want to do something out of the ordinary this weekend? I hope so!
I wanted to make sure you knew of the terrific Love Summit that my friend Linda Kroll is hosting this weekend. She’s brought together an awesome group of fifteen speakers who will share tools to support people who want to experience more joy, passion, peace, connection and fun! The speakers include authors, coaches and healers.
I’m registered for the Love Summit and am absolutely loving the program. It’s all FREE but you need to register for it.
Get your joy groove on!
Click here to see the line-up and register – remember it’s FREE!
I like many other writers, readers, scholars and folk are sending you the biggest of birthday wishes and affection. Here are ten things that I want to thank you for:
- For your beautiful smile. By the time I was a sophomore in college I had discovered your body of work and read everything I could find. In my desire to develop as a writer and having so few models that looked like me, I nurtured secret fantasies of being your daughter–because I thought we had similar smiles. I know that sounds strange. Don’t misunderstand–I loved my mother and her face. But, she possessed high cheekbones, ones that I would never have. Seeing your smile with full cheeks made me appreciate my own wide smile and made it easier to imagine myself as a writer. Also, an essence of kindness radiates from your smile that draws people in that I admire. Now, more than twenty years later, I am a writer and have nurtured my creative self, so had shed that fantasy of being your daughter. But, I still love your smile!
- For writing The Temple of My Familiar. Epic, metaphysical, culturally rooted and romantic! I still remember a snippet of a line that Fanny says to her husband as she is trying to encourage both of them to spiritually evolve-”I love your breath most because it is the least colonized part of you” (paraphrase)
- For writing about African American women’s creativity and exploding conventional notions about what creativity is ‘good for’ in the landmark essay ‘In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens’. I have written elsewhere about the power of that essay in my life. I am still amazed that in many popular creativity books, authors still fail to acknowledge the genius of African American women (and other women of color) and reduce creativity solely to production.
- For naming womanism.
- For your novel Meridian. I just finished teaching this amazing novel to students in my ‘Women of Color in Contemporary U.S. Social Movements’ class. It provides a powerful connection to the struggles of black and white women during the Civil Rights movement. It also beautifully explores the psychological and health challenges of being an activist.
- For writing about role of meditation and Buddhism in your life and the value of contemplative practices for the future of humanity.
- For resurrecting the work of Zora Neale Hurston.
- For The Color Purple. Singular and visionary.
- For Her Blue Body Everything We Know: Earthling Poems.
- For your short story collections: In Love and Trouble: Stories of Black Women and You Can’t Keep a Good Woman Down. These collections tackled topics that ranged from abortion, pornography, black love, internalized hatred, love, lust, fame, and valuing one’s roots.
I’ve stopped myself at 10, but I could easily keep going. Thank you for all that you have written and shared.
Last week, I wrote about beginning a powerful process to create a vision board. Below is Part 2:
If you followed previous steps, you now have roughly ten categories (i.e. health and body, finances, relationships, home, work, creative expression, travel/adventure, spiritual, possessions and special intention) that reflect what you desire.
Now, I’d like you to rank those categories from 1-10 and then choose the top 3 categories that you’d like your vision board to reflect. Why 3? Three is a manageable number when working on goals. Too many goals can dilute your focus.
Once you have your top 3 categories, you’re going to do some more writing. For each category write, ‘I intend, I choose, I have’. For example, if one of my categories is ‘possessions’ and I’d like a new car, I might write: ‘I intend to have a new car. I choose to save money every month for my new car. I have my new car by December 2014’. Your statements can be as long or as elaborate as you like. Writing these statements provides an anchor in your subconscious that will be reinforced with the images.
Are you ready to create your vision board? I hope so!
Gather any of the following: calendars, handmade specialty papers, magazines, catalogs, photographs, art supplies, beads, feathers, magic markers, fabric, glue sticks, and poster board.
Set aside time to look through your supplies: You want to gather (or draw) images that relate to your top 3 categories. Even if you think an image doesn’t logically relate to your categories, if it moves you—include it.
Organize your pile: There is no one way to make a ‘vision board’. Once you gather everything, it’s about inviting your Creative Self to enjoy patterns, shapes, and colors. Arrange the materials in a way that makes you happy and gets at the essence of what your categories represent to you.
Create a 40 Day Practice: To seal the deal, I recommend that you create a 40 day practice connected to your vision board. It can mean that you look at it daily and imagine how you will feel if you received what you wanted. It can mean that you write daily affirmations or positive statements about your desires. It can mean that you take daily action for 40 days related to one of your goals. Forty days is considered a powerful number for breaking habits and is a sacred number in many spiritual traditions. Whatever you do for 40 days, as part of your visioning process, will yield tremendous results.
Let me know how it is going!
I made the case last week that your vision needs to wow you. This week, I’m sharing a powerful approach to the visioning process that gets you to your WOW. This is a process I have used in many of my creativity workshops.
Shakti Gawain, in the book, Creative Visualization (1988), coined the term ‘treasure maps’ – a way of visually representing your wishes and dreams using collage techniques. People now call them ‘vision boards’, ‘image collectors’, ‘dream maps’, ‘alchemy maps’, ‘maps for your heart’s desires’ ‘transformation collages’, etc. It really doesn’t matter what you call them. They act as a subconscious reminder (psst…, I really want to experience ‘x’ and I need your support!), energy boost, and place to focus your intention.
Without realizing it, I made my first vision board in college after reading Alice Walker’s amazing essay, ‘In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens’. The essay highlighted the multiple ways that African American women sustained a creative impulse even under the condition of slavery. Walker argued that creativity is not just about producing things, but is about an approach to life. After reading this, I went into a kind of reverie. I wanted to create something right then and there! I gathered magazines, greeting cards and all the colored paper I had on hand. I spent a whole evening cutting out images of African American models, writers, and intellectuals. I put a quote from the essay in the middle of the cardboard, pasted my images all around it– and there was my first vision board. That vision board didn’t focus on things per se, but how I wanted to feel by the time I graduated and how I wanted to experience my creative energies. I still have that vision board, too and the feelings it evokes still guide me today!
What is your vision? A dream vacation? A new job? A better relationship with your loved one? Achieving your heart’s desire first starts with identifying what it is and then aligning your inner vision with the outer world.
Here’s a way to start the process: Think about the following categories of your life, both what’s true for you now and what you might like to manifest within the next 2 years. Ideally, you’ll jot down a few notes under each category:
Health and Body (this includes ideas about well-being, weight loss or gain, exercise, recovery from illness, etc.)
Finances (savings, paying off of debt, money for indulgences, general abundance and prosperity)
Relationships (love, romance, partnership, marriage, children, parents, friends, relatives, neighbors, partners, co-workers and pets)
Home (where you live currently, buying, selling, renting, remodeling, moving, acquiring, roommates, decorating and designing where you live)
Work (Where you want to work, what you want to do, how much you want to be paid, the kinds of people you’d like to work with, the environment you want to work in, the rewards you’d like to receive, the amount of independence you want, your contribution to the world)
Creative expression (hobbies and passions: singing, dancing, painting, photography, cooking, gardening, healing, etc.)
Travel/Adventure (travel, sports, recreation, world exploration, new experiences of every kind)
Possessions (any and all physical objects and property that make your daily life more joyous, more pleasurable, more comfortable, more practical or more fun)
Spiritual (personal discovery, healing old wounds/forgiveness work, recovering personal power, expanding intuitive awareness, finding your life’s purpose)
Special Intention (anything not covered above)
Soon, I’ll share the next step to make your vision board truly serve you.