A Key to Writing

A typewriter is essential writing equipment. It doesn’t matter if the ribbon’s dried up or if it’s actually a teapot disguised as a Remington—I believe that if you are actively trying to put words together, it’s absolutely necessary to have one.

Even if it’s only a postcard or a newspaper panel of Snoopy typing on top of his little red doghouse. Continue reading

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A Call for Curiosity

Creativity is imagination at work. This combination of individuality and innovation is as unique as each of us. It represents originality. It is one of our most treasured traits, and if we are not careful, we will lose it.

Every day on the walls of our digital worlds, we have the chance to encounter whimsy and wonder. Fast internet and faster social media connects us to artists creating galaxies from spray paint, engineers custom-building computers, designers up-cycling tacky suits into runway-ready dresses, and planners crafting picture-perfect parties.

Platform after platform gives us the ability to engage with high-resolution flights of fancy, to collect ideas and gather inspiration. Yet, while likes, shares, and retweets give us a unique language for sharing and supporting creativity, they also give us on the other side of the screen a reason to disqualify ourselves from it. Little by little, we tell ourselves creativity must be validated, recognized, and perhaps most dangerously of all, paid. If a passion can’t win us followers, fame, or fortune, should we spend time on it?

When we’re little, we make forts out of pillows, pies from mud, and art galleries in legal pads. We dream of becoming astronaut ballet teachers and artist doctors—daring mishmashes that barely encompass all we want to be when we grow up. Yet, somewhere along the way, we grow self-conscious. We start to feel the importance of knowing and that if we are meant to pursue something, it will come easily for us.

Faced with the daily pressure of expertise, we are terrified to be amateurs.

However, curiosity—not knowing—is the prerogative of the creative person. The results we marvel at began with someone thinking, “What if I tried this?” Like a cat, curiosity explores the undersides of everyday expectations and tips over the boxes we live in.

Yes, some might say. And curiosity killed the cat.

There is risk in creativity. Imagination is messy. Paints so easily run together. Seams have to be torn out and sewn again. But just as the joy of a hike is not simply the view from the summit, what our hands and our hearts learn from the endeavor is more than the end result. Being creative means enjoying the journey, experimenting, wondering, learning, and simply trying.Climb-J

It’s time we reclaimed inspiration for what it was meant to be. Instead of being content to simply curate creativity, let us delve right in up to our elbows. Let us bring creativity back into our days by celebrating it in our own lives. Build, write, paint, photograph, and dance because you are curious. Do them badly and learn to do them better, but in everything, try.

We should remember the second half of the saying, lost somewhere along the way: Curiosity did kill the cat, but satisfaction brought it back.

Pie Again

In honor of Pi Day (3/14), I’m writing about pie again.

And (because of the way I am) if I’m writing about pie, that means I’m also writing about words, too. For me, baking and writing are nearly inseparable. They are both things I enjoy doing and experimenting with, and while only one can actually be eaten, both can be consumed. They can both show care for others, bring warmth and comfort, and nourish the spirit.

In my opinion, both are absolute necessities. Continue reading

Atramentous

I need a title.

A new project I’m working on has outgrown its old one, and now I’m left with the task of naming it again. It’s because of this and other bits of life that have got me thinking even more about the impact of words. So here I am, trying to decide which words will set the stage, which ones have the right shades of orange and twilight lavender splashed with stars.

Like many people who love language—the sounds and shapes of it— I keep a list of words I like. Some of them are on the list for their meaning, and others are on the list because of their timbre. Often, it’s a mix of the two. Words are complicated, infinitely loaded with perception, context, and even your own experiences. Continue reading

100 Letters, Pie, and Reasons Why

Imagine making a pie, but this pie takes a year or more to bake. Before that, you spend weeks looking at recipes, reading cookbooks late into the night, and tasting ingredients. You spend months rolling out piecrust and kneading it back together to try again. After you’ve fluted the crust with knife-edge precision, a level, and a ruler, you begin throwing the contents of your spice cabinet together like a mad culinary artist.

By the time you pour the filling into the shell, you’ve mixed up twelve different bowls (this one with more cinnamon, this one with more ginger, less vanilla in this one, this one you tried the butter at room temperature) before it finally smells like perfection. The countertop is littered with eggshells, puffs of flour, dirty spoons, and the sink is overflowing, but this, this is ready.

With a deep breath, you slide it into the oven. But even at this point, anything can still happen. The crust starts to sag. The filling bubbles over. One edge is traitorously turning black. The whole thing is going to turn into a sticky patch of half-burnt, inedible goo.

But then, somehow, the timer buzzes and you pull a beautiful, hot pie from the oven. You set it out on the table, sweaty, proud, and a little nervous, but you’re ready to share what you’ve made. There you stand, clutching your oven mitts together.

The first person you ask says no thanks, they’ve already eaten five slices. The person next to them is more of a cake enthusiast. Someone else is too busy talking to even think about dessert. Time goes by, and the warm steam wisps away from your pie. No one wants what you’ve made.

For a writer, rejection feels a lot like that. Continue reading

Why You Should Read Aloud

Some of my best memories are of books being read aloud. When my sister and I were younger, we were homeschooled, and as we chowed down on grilled cheese sandwiches at lunchtime, my teacher (mom) would read to us. I worked out pronunciation and learned to love the sound of words by reading Robinson Crusoe out loud. When I moved away for school, Tuesday nights I’d Skype with a friend, and we’d read P.G. Wodehouse to each other. Studying abroad in Oxford, three of us chipped in for Terry Prachett’s Raising Steam and camped out on a bed to read with hot chocolate or tea. All of these moments are special, tied together with two of the most important things in my life: good books and good company.

These are just some examples from my life, but I’d like to give you three reasons you should start reading aloud today.

Continue reading