The Practice of Creativity

Posts Tagged ‘Erika Dreifus

I discovered writer and self-described ‘resource maven’, Erika Dreifus, about two years ago. And, I can say without question that my writing life is better because of her. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I eagerly await her postings on ‘The Practicing Writing’ blog. Erika curates advice and information about publishing and the writing life. She also rounds up opportunities for writers that charge no fees and publications/contests that pay writers. I also subscribe to her excellent monthly newsletter. Her work is generous and sustains community.

Erika is the author of Quiet Americans: Stories (Last Light Studio), which is an ALA Sophie Brody Medal Honor Title for outstanding Jewish literature.

In honor of National Poetry Month, I’m delighted to welcome her to The Practice of Creativity.

 

Winter Haiku (2015)

By Erika Dreifus

I miss Boston lots
though as the snow falls and falls
I’m glad I’m not there.

About this poem: I go through phases—and I’m in one now—during which I try to write a new poem every day (or at least, every weekday). On some particularly frenetic days, I sometimes opt for haiku. Here’s a piece that I wrote during the winter of 2015, which you may remember as an especially harsh one for New Englanders. I used to be a New Englander myself, but I admit that I’m not sorry to have missed out on last winter in Massachusetts! Michele’s invitation to contribute to her blog happened to arrive on a day when my friends to the north were again posting snowscape scenes on social media. (Poor things!) Which reminded me of this haiku.

 To learn more about me/my work—and to subscribe to my free e-newsletter for writers—please visit http://ErikaDreifus.com.

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Envy is a vocational hazard for most writers. It festers in one’s mind, distracting one from one’s own work, at its most virulent even capable of rousing the sufferer from sleep to brood over another’s triumph.–Bonnie Friedman, ‘Envy, The Writer’s Disease’ in Writing Past Dark

What role does envy and/or jealousy play in your creative life? It’s an important question that we often wish to avoid. For a long time I struggled with the sting of persistent feelings of envy and jealousy toward other writers and creative folk. I felt I was the only one. And, for many years I felt ashamed of my feelings and kept silent about them. As a culture, we rarely seem to acknowledge envy and jealousy in a healthy way.

Two writers have recently provided excellent discussions on envy:

All creative people have to contend with feelings of envy. The question writer David Ebenbach asks is: Can we push with envy instead of against it? He calls his approach envy jujitsu.

Nina Badzin through her advice column on the HerStories Project tackles a question about envy, friendship and success.*

Years ago, when I came across the musings on jealousy by creativity author Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy (SARK) in her book, The Bodacious Book of Succulence, I felt seen and witnessed:

“I wish we would all have more clear, truthful, jealous outbursts. We all feel jealousy. I feel it often, about both odd and common things…Jealousy only points the way towards where we might like to go. It is a gift (an oddly wrapped gift)…Practice saying loudly and firmly I AM SO JEALOUS.”

She notes that most of us believe that we’re inferior if we feel jealous yet when “jealousy is shared consciously when felt, its power disappears”. She also says we try to protect others from being jealous of us by sometimes denying our own good fortune. And that our silence and a sense of scarcity is what “feeds” jealously. Agreed!

This brings me to the ‘Envy Hall of Fame’ exercise. I came up with the exercise, many years ago, in the midst of doing a 40-day yoga practice for anger, grudge holding and jealousy. I came to realize that intense envy and jealousy are often our inner critics’ favorite weapons.

The idea is simple—write or collage your ‘Envy Hall of Fame’ and then move on!

Writing and/or making a collage of folks that one is truly envious of can be therapeutic and can help redirect our inner critics. And, once you release that energy, you can move on. It’s not like you’re never going to feel those feelings ever again, you will, but your inner critics can’t beat you up in the same way.

Over the years I’ve found the best antidote for envy and jealousy is good self-care, a return to my own creative work and creative community. The work waits for us in all its possibilities and imperfections, to be settled into and explored.

Do you admit to your envy and jealousy? Do you write about it? Confide in friends? If you were going to create an Envy Hall of Fame, who would be in it?

 

*I found these two wonderful authors through the incredible ‘Practicing Writing’ blog maintained by Erika Dreifus. An excellent resource for writers!


Michele Tracy Berger

Michele Tracy Berger

Author, Academic, Creativity Expert I'm an award winning writer.

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