Archive for the ‘creativity’ Category

The Unknown City

May 6, 2007

Several years ago at an ASJA luncheon, I had the opportunity to meet lifelong New Yorker Pete Hamill. Whether fiction or nonfiction, Hamill writes about New York City.

I love the feeling in New York City with its rich heritage and diversity. It’s fun for me to melt into the crowd and ride the subway to different parts of the city. I often purchase a seven-day unlimited pass to ride to different parts of the city. It’s normal for New Yorkers but it stirs a sense of adventure for me to go uptown or downtown on the local or express trains.

Later this month, New York will be the host for Book Expo America. In honor of that event, Publisher’s Weekly included a stirring piece from Hamill about his city. Hamill writes, “Nobody truly knows New York, not even most New Yorkers. The city is too large, too dense and layered to be intimately known by anyone. I was born here, the first son of Irish immigrants, during the first term of Franklin D. Roosevelt. I grew up on the streets of Brooklyn, attended schools here, and worked for more than 40 joyous years as a reporter and columnist on the newspapers of the wider city.” I loved how the heritage and memories of the long tradition of the city are woven into this article. I hope you will read the entire article.

How can you weave this type of emotion and detail into your own writing? Can you capture the sense of place in your nonfiction magazine articles? Can you take me to the place with your fiction? It takes continual creative work for each of us to find the right words for each piece of our writing. Many people aren’t willing to do this work. Today I’d encourage you to lift your head and rise up beyond the ordinary in your writing. You can do it with the right amount of energy and effort. Let’s learn from the example from Pete Hamill.

Nurture Your Own Creativity

March 12, 2007

“There is something delicious about writing the first words of a story,” says Miss Beatrix Potter in the film Miss Potter. The film is based on the life of the bestselling children’s author of all time (according to the movie credits), Beatrix Potter, who wrote and illustrated beautiful stories about Peter Rabbit.

Miss Potter shows how much Beatrix Potter’s immediate family misunderstood the artist and storyteller. She was more interested in marrying for love instead of for social class or because she had reached a certain age. I was fascinated with this film and how it showed the creative process. As a young artist, Miss Potter was determined to get her book published and took her illustrations in person to various publishers in London. Finally she found someone who wanted to publish her stories. Her parents continued to treat her as a young unmarried woman living at home–yet outside of the family her fame and popularity skyrocketed in an innocent way.

The breathless scenery is enough reason to see Miss Potter but the acting and story will touch your heart. Renee Zellweger plays Beatrix Potter and I loved this story and what it reveals about the mixture of art and creativity and writing in a real life setting. Not everyone understands the writing life but the creator of this film did so and captured it well. Because of the innocence and simplicity of this story, the film has been modestly received. For example, in this part of Arizona, Miss Potter is showing at a single theater known mostly for artistic types of films. It may be hard for you to find but it’s worth your efforts to track it down.

As writers, each of us have to find different ways to nurture your own creativity. Maybe it will be watching a good movie or reading a good book or having a unique experience. Find ways to engage in this process.