Saturday Creativity Quote — on creative confidence

Mixed floral bouquet -- author photo, taken at Pike Place Market
author photo, taken at Pike Place Market

I subscribe to the newsletter of Tiffany Yates Martin, an editor, teacher, and writer. She recently wrote about meeting artist and illustrator Bob Eckstein at the 2024 Erma Bombeck Writers’ Conference, and talking with him about his work. One topic was creative confidence—although that’s my term, not theirs—and I very much appreciated this observation:

“[I]t’s more than simply believing in yourself. It means allowing yourself a free hand in your initial creative efforts, knowing that you have the talent and skill and persistence to be able to continue to hone it in subsequent revisions to make it what you want it to be. That kind of faith is freeing, allowing you to take chances, to loose your wildest imagination, to risk failing because you know it doesn’t make you a failure. It’s simply one step on the road to success.”

It’s a natural follow-up to last week’s quote about perseverance, because you get confidence not from rubbing a magic shamrock, but from doing the work.

Although rubbing magic shamrocks never hurts. .

The Saturday Creativity Quote — making sense of the senseless

Like many of you, I’m finding it difficult to write right now, after the shootings in Uvalde, TX, and Buffalo, NY, and so many others. After those tragedies, reminded once again of our failures as a society to protect the innocent and to deal with conflict without violence, writing, painting, and other creative work can feel impossible. As pointless as the tragedies themselves. But it is not.

Editor, writer, and teacher Tiffany Yates Martin wrote a deeply heartfelt, practical essay earlier this week titled How Can Writing Matter in the Face of Suffering, including several ways to use our creative work to process pain, find a way into action, to connect, to give voice, and to write for hope. Read it. Here’s one paragraph that struck me.

Story illuminates the world, a lens through which others may find some measure of understanding of their own tragedies, their own pain. Working through difficult and painful things in our writing may offer insight and aid to others amid their own struggles.

Martin ends by quoting another writer, editor Susan De Freitas, that also struck me when I read it in a piece on Jane Friedman’s blog: “Wherever you are, if you’ve been struggling with this question, Why write when the world is on fire?, remember: Your words are water.”

And if you’re thinking what can any of us do to change the laws or public policy or diminish hatred, remember Margaret Mead’s words. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.

“Be water, my friend,” as the late Bruce Lee wrote, reminding us that flow is our natural and most powerful state. Let your tears flow, and the words will follow.

(Illustration: photo of an unattributed quote and collage I spotted online months ago, printed out, and keep on my desk. It reads: Do what you can with what you have where you are.”)

Saturday Creativity Quote

Bitterroot Winter by Rachel Warner (collection of the author)

“Creativity never responds to the stick, only the carrot.”

Tiffany Yates Martin, editor and novelist

One of my own carrots is to buy myself an “art prize” when I finish the edits of a book. This lovely little oil by our friend, Columbia Falls, MT painter Rachel Warner, was my prize for Treble at the Jam Fest, the 4th Food Lovers’ Village mystery