Think Big: Heritage Story

In ongoing work with my creative consultant last week, I was asked to write about the possible connections between my early training in the Socratic method as an undergraduate at Whitman College, my 13 years of experience as a Shambhala Buddhist, and my life as a writer. In short, she advised, tell me the story of your creative heritage–not necessarily in terms of literary or artistic influences, rather, in terms of the evolution of thoughts and methodologies in my own development.It took three hours, a good cup of coffee, and 8 pages of writing, but I feel I was able to draw some compelling connections between these important threads in my life.

Initially, I felt resistance to the exercise. I don’t mind talking about my own work from time to time, and my husband Brad and my parents are kind supporters who listen when I have something I need to process out loud. But I didn’t want to dissect the inner workings of my thought patterns within my own life–whether out of superstition, fatigue, uncertainty, or something I can’t even name. Now that I’ve done it, I’m so pleased with the insights gained.

I can share the following few sentences, which made the entire process worthwhile:


I believe I have written a successful story or essay if it
simultaneously depicts and provides an invitation to change. This is very
different than saying my writing needs to cause change. It does not. It merely
needs to embody the possibility; the prose and the circumstances—whether
fictional or autobiographical—strive to evoke ecstatic uncertainty, paired with
a sense of hope.

How have your thoughts evolved in your own writing and work as an artist or creative spirit? How does naming that evolution indicate where you might be headed next? I’m still pondering these things and I’d love to hear from others about their own insights as well. Meantime, time for more coffee–nectar of the gods.

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