I keep coming face to face with the notion that creative work does not get done in a vacuum. As much as the romanticized notion of a writer typing away day after day in their tiny attic space might appeal to some, there is a point at which every person who attempts to do creative work must engage with the world and with other people. My introverted self usually wants to stay tucked away in a safe corner; I was always the student who inwardly groaned whenever a teacher assigned a “group project.” But lately I’m feeling more and more led to the kinds of interactions that encourage new ideas and processes, and even to actual collaborations - to working together with other artists and writers in the making of something good.
This is all to say that fate has brought me face to face with some good inspiration and is putting the opportunity for these interactions squarely in my path.
It started with meeting Christa Grix, who is a professional harpist in the Detroit area. Christa performs as a classical and jazz harpist, she teaches, arranges, and records. We have been meeting monthly to share ideas, to inspire one another in our work, and share stories about Life In General. We keep uncovering commonalities in our backgrounds which make our connection all the more fulfilling. Christa inspires me not only with her talent and creativity, but especially with her ambition, her work ethic, and her vision for the future. The fact that she sees me as anywhere near her equal in any of these things not only boosts my confidence but also gives me energy and drive I often have trouble finding in that quiet corner I hide in. Knowing Christa inspires me, and listening to her music inspires me too. I have one of her CD's on repeat right now, and it fills me with goodness. The best part? We are currently in the early stages of collaborating on a new project about which I’m SO excited.
Around the time I met Christa (in real life) I met Kira Elliott (in the digital world). Kira is another strong inspiration for me, because, like Christa, she is carving a path for her creative work amidst the real world of full time employment, living in a committed relationship, and being a mother. Kira’s writing, photography, and online workshops focus on ways to inspire open-hearted living, learning, and loving, ways to be vulnerable about our truest thoughts and ideas. Every one of her blog posts connects with a deep part of my own yearning to do all those things. Even though we’ve only met online so far, Kira lives within 30 miles of me and I'm thrilled that we’ll be meeting in person later this summer at a very special event.
These real life connections are so golden for me right now. For so long I have been entrenched in the digital world of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, which are all just more “safe corners” for me. While I appreciate the connections I’ve made and sustain through these outlets, I have become all too dismally aware that the ways the time I spend online rob me of time to read, reflect, think, write, enjoy, and interact in meaningful ways with other people and with the world around me. I often think about all the extra time I would have during the day if the internet had never been invented. A major intention for my summer months is to spend less time on social media outlets, and more time doing just about ANYTHING else. Whatever did I do all day long in those years before the world was constantly at my fingertips? I’d like to find out.
I think so often about the early days of my internet “career” (before the advent of most current social media) when my digital activity was limited to reading blogs of other writers. Many wonderful connections were made in those days, much good reading and thinking and sharing of stories. The snippets we share on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pale in comparison to the thoughtful essays about hopes, dreams, love, loss, and life that went on amongst my early blogging compatriots. It’s no surprise that many of those same bloggers - like Susannah Conway, Liz Lamoreaux, and Bella Cirovic - have expanded their early writing platforms into widespread and successful artistic careers. They inspired me then, and they inspire me still.
This lady inspires me too: Jen Lee. Her book (with Tim Manley) The 10 Letters Project, has been my go-to book lately whenever I need a shot of inspiration. It’s filled with underlining now, and marginalia, and index cards covered with pencil-scribbled passages that may make their way into future blog posts or essays. Jen's passion about creating connection is near to my heart. Her film Indie Kindred is about ways creative people can do just what Christa and Kira and some my early blogging kindred have done - come together in real life, inspire one another, collaborate with one another, and MAKE good things. Jen, together with other members of the Indie Kindred community, is hosting events all over the United States this summer in which we can connect in real life and time. I’ll be attending this one in August, and I can’t wait to be enveloped with all that inspiration.