Creative Autobiography pt 1

The following questions are from The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp

1. What is the first creative moment you remember? 

I’m not sure which one came first, the games or the story. But I would narrate the lives of my toys with my sister. And it wouldn’t only be when we played with dolls or barbies or anything else that was obviously a ‘person’ in some form. We used to play with a backgammon board and the pieces were little drones going to and from their work in a warehouse. 

Anyway… or I wrote a little book about two people meeting in the park and they fall in love and their dogs fall in love and I drew the pictures in crayon. It was in a yellow steno book. And yes I had just watched 101 Dalmatians. But I made up my own little story for it and even wrote a sequel. I still have them both and they are horrifying and will never see the light of day. But that would be my first creative moment. 

2. Was anyone there to witness or appreciate it?

Yes. My sister in both instances. My mom the second. She’s the one who gave me the notebook in the first place. 

3. What is the best idea you’ve ever had? 

Creative my author business and making it a priority in life. 

4. What made it great in your mind? 

Without the structure, I wouldn’t feel like I was being what I was meant to be. I’ve always wanted to be an author – since that little yellow steno notebook. And I understand I’m not going to be an ‘overnight success’ and be able to quit my day job right away, but if I let those be excuses I wouldn’t ever get there. Instead, I found ways to fit into my life and around my day job and I’m very productive and can feel the gears turning in the right direction. I’m much further along in my journey now that I was when I started being ‘serious’ and that’s all the validation I need that it was a great idea. 

5. What is the dumbest idea? 

Probably the time before I made the best one. When I kept calling myself a writer, but I wasn’t finding time to do the writing. I had all the crates of previous work and talked about writing a lot, but made all kinds of excuses about why I hadn’t written anything new. If I’d made it a priority sooner, I would be much further along now. 

6. What made it stupid?

Kind of said it above, but it was mostly because I was holding myself back without even realizing it. 

7. Can you connect the dots that led you to the best idea? 

I was given a book for my birthday – Making a Literary Life. And reading it put me back into the right frame of mind. I could picture that future me that wrote books more vividly than I had in a long time, and I decided then that I needed to figure out how to make it happen. 

The big change didn’t happen right away after that, but it was definitely where the baby steps started. 

8. What is your creative ambition?

To get better with every new thing I write. I never want to stop learning. I work to improve my craft and my storytelling with each new project I undertake. And I want to write forever and entertain people with my words. 

9. What are the obstacles to this ambition? 

Getting out of my own way. Listening to advice and putting it into action even if I don’t fully understand it. 

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

Continuing to read craft books and all the material put out by other great writers and learning from them. Trying new techniques and seeing what works for me – both in a way that makes my writing better and improves my processes in general. Not forcing myself into boxes because it looks like something that will work. 

11. How do you begin your day? 

A glass of water and a few minutes of silence. Then coffee and children haha. 

12. What are your habits? What patterns do you repeat? 

Cleaning before working on book stuff. I can’t focus on my book when I know there’s clutter in the other room. Checking doors are locked before going to bed. Taking too much work with me to a place when I know I won’t have time to do it all. 

I’ve been working on implementing habits in my life – yoga and journaling in the morning and night time routines, but that’s still a work in progress. 

13. Describe your first successful creative act.

When I was in seventh grade, I finished writing my first book. I’d started several stories before this one but never got to ‘The End’ on any of them. But in seventh grade I wrote a full-length (wish) YA novel. It’s also not worth reading and won’t see the light of day, but it was the first one I’d ever finished and it proved to me that I was capable of it. 

14. Describe your second successful creative act.

After the first novel, I wrote a complete vampire trilogy. 

15. Compare them.

Neither one is a literary masterpiece by any means, but the trilogy had a lot more than the first book. There were more complex characters and the story arc was more interesting (to me) plutons the fact that it was three books intend of just one. 

Both amazing for a 12/13 year-old, but you could definitely tell how I’d improved by the second. 

16. What are your attitudes toward: Money, power, praise, rivals, work, play?

Money – I know it’s necessary in the grand scheme of things, but I wish it wasn’t. I like it in my life currently because it means I can buy nice things for my kids and live comfortably. But I’m not hung up on the idea of it. 

Power – it’s abused too often. I can’t stand people who lord their authority over other people and think it’s the sole reason they deserve respect. 

Praise – I have a really hard time accepting compliments, but at the same time I crave them. 

Rivals – I don’t know if I have a full opinion here. The only person I consider to be a rival is myself. I only want to beat how well I did yesterday. 

Work – I enjoy working and being productive. I like having done something to the best of my abilities. I’m a little bit of a workaholic. If I’m doing nothing for too long, I feel like there is work I forgot to do. 

Play – I know it’s important to decompress and let loose. It also helps fill the creative well. I think I do an okay job of including the play in my life, but sometimes I might be a little too uptight and should play more.