NYR 1905: “Be More Creative.” Part 3 – Gabriela, Julie, and Liz.

Warning: I’m feeling very grateful right now, and so there’s a good chance this post could get sappy. 

I’m grateful for a number of reasons. The girls went to bed easily; it’s a beautiful evening, and I’m out on my balcony writing as the sun sets lazily behind the building across the street.

OK, so immediately after writing that last sentence I heard something move behind me. I spun around and looked into my condo. There was my sweet 2-year-old daughter, standing pantless in our living room staring at me through the screen door for God know’s how long. Excuse me for a minute while I take her back to bed.

…She did it again. Give me a second.

Sorry, we recently switched her from a crib to a daybed and this is the first time she’s gotten out and explored. Liz is at the gym and I’m not sure what to do. I’ve got the monitor and right now I’m just watching her wander around her bedroom… aaand there she goes. Be right back.

This time she wanted a drink of water. Whatever, fine. I put her to bed and locked her in the bedroom. Technically I locked myself out of the bedroom but it’s pretty easy to unlock from the outside if you have a knife or a flat-head screwdriver. She’ll be fine. I’ll probably reverse the lock this weekend. It’s a miracle her sister has slept through all of this.

Where were we? Oh yes, as we wrap up this month’s series on creativity I’m feeling very grateful. I want to give a shout-out to three women specifically, and since I’m now well over 300 words in let’s get on with it:

  1. Gabriela Pereira (Instagram: @diymfa). Gabriela wrote this book, which caught my eye as I was browsing a New Year’s Resolutions kiosk (of course) at the library. I devoured this book. I took notes in a Google sheet which ended up having over 20 tabs. As I’m going through them now I’m thinking 1) I should probably organize my notes more thoughtfully, and 2) I should probably reread this book because she has a whole section on blogging and there are a lot of specifics that I may have glossed over when I first read it. My journey as a writer started with this book (and a little help from her Writer Igniter prompt generator). Gabriela, thank you for introducing me to writing in a way that was so welcoming and engaging. And thank you especially for the Commencement section at the end of the book. Simply put, you made me feel like I had permission to write.
  2. Julie Duffy (Instagram: @storyadaymay). Julie created this program, which I learned about when she was a guest on the DIY MFA podcast. I decided to participate, and I wrote a story a day, every day, for an entire month using her prompts. Thank you Julie, not just for the prompts but for your encouraging words in the comments section. Thank you for the incredibly supportive community you’ve built, and for publishing my first story. A few things I learned along the way:
    1. I have time to write. In May of 2018 we had a 1-year-old and a 1-month-old, and at one point our entire family had Hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD). what’s that you say? You thought only toddlers contracted HFMD? Yeah, so did we. I still wrote, every day. Whenever I start to complain that I don’t have time to write I try to think back to that time in my life and stop making excuses.
    1. Execution matters more than the original idea. I would get really excited when I opened my email in the morning and saw the day’s prompt. But often I would feel deflated as soon as I read it. I would think, “how am I supposed to write a story about that?” Stop it. Go. Just start writing. Some of the most fun stories I wrote came from prompts that I initially thought were going to be the most challenging. Don’t spin your wheels trying to come up with an amazing idea. You can always change your mind as you go along, the key is to start writing.
    1. Action! Whenever my stories fell flat it was usually because nothing was happening. I remember one time I sat down to write, and the only idea I had was that I wanted to capture the beauty of watching a sunrise over the sea. So I started to write a story about a guy on a cruise ship who woke up early and did just that. It was terrible. The next day, I wrote another story about a guy on a cruise ship watching the sunrise, except this time it was in Antarctica; the ship was trapped in ice for days and people were starting to eat each other. Much better!
  3. Liz Wells (Instagram: @lizwells519). In addition to being my favorite person in the world, my wife Liz has read every single word that I have ever published. Not only that, but she does an amazing job blocking for me. In his book, On Writing, Stephen King wrote that your writing space “…really needs only one thing: a door which you are willing to shut.” I live in a condo with two-under-two and I can tell you that sometimes the doors aren’t all that effective (case in point this evening). Liz is my door. Remember the HFMD situation? She was the one watching the kids while I was scribbling away in my notebooks or typing away on my computer, drinking milkshake after milkshake from Potbelly’s because come on they’re pretty much all you can eat when you have HFMD. I’m grateful for the honest feedback she gives when I’ve written something bad, and the occasional promo she gives when I’ve written something good. So here’s to Liz: the best wife, friend, editor and social-media-influencer a guy could ask for.

I warned you this could get sappy.

See you next week!

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