Besides writing, what's your favorite creative outlet?
Early in my career as a reading teacher I observed tweens and teens as they slowly lost interest in recreational reading. It broke my heart. At first I wrote to contribute options for these newly reluctant readers—fun, fast-paced content that could be used as curriculum enhancement without eliciting groans. I wanted to take these readers on adventures to places they might not ever be able to travel. To place them inside the minds of people they would not otherwise
meet. To open the door to empathy.
Now I think more about writing YA because these books, like all children’s books, are content intense. I love rearranging words to paint a scene clearly or to make the reader feel like new friends and/or foes have entered their life. It’s challenging to make every sentence count. There’s no fluff. You can’t bluff your way through six paragraphs to make a point. You can’t bluff teens period.
Gardening. Flowers and food. What could be more comparable to turning a blank page into a story than planting a garden? Dirt. Seeds. Water. Sun. Whoa! A few weeks later you have a vision of surprise and wonder. It’s never dull. Nothing’s tastier and more satisfying than harvesting one’s own food, preparing it, or storing it for the winter. It’s freezing. Ice. Snow. Gray. Yuck. Oh! Look in the freezer. Suddenly summer returns us to sanity.
When I get stuck with a writing problem I go outside and pull weeds. It’s like magic. Instant gratification. Somehow the problems in my head are sorted out while I yank.
Reading, of course, is a major creative outlet. But it can become pure escape if I’m not careful, and brainstorming with friends always feeds my creativity. So does interior decorating, though my significant other calls it “interior cluttering.” I used to make pottery and jewelry, but my mistakes were way too costly!
I will read anything that engages me quickly and/or challenges me to ponder new concepts. I love mysteries and stories that involve the great outdoors. One YA author I was recently introduced to, and whose work I enjoy is Ginny Rorby (Dolphin Sky and Hurt Go Happy). Authors of adult fiction I enjoy are Mary Alice Monroe (I love her romances that layer in ecological issues), Randy Wayne White (I can’t resist his Doc Ford, an “ex” Navy Seal turned marine biologist), and Carl Hiaasen (author of both YA and adult books that diss environmental adversaries). I can’t ignore the fact that I’m a HUGE Harry Potter fan though. But I absolutely will not read anything violent or frightening.
Gosh, if I had to pick one, I’d probably say country because I love stories! Sometimes revenge is so sweet. Other times I need a good cry. Plus, I can’t resist singing along. But I love classic rock, Motown, classical, some blues, and mellow jazz. It all depends on my mood--or is it the weather? These days the genres run together so much that it’s difficult to classify what I’m lovin’ at any given moment.
It would be a close call between dressing as Maid Marian in any of the Robin Hood movies and Elizabeth Swan in Pirates of the Caribbean. If I were Maid Marian I’d chose a demure Renaissance gown. It’s always fun to act innocent while concealing much. But Elizabeth’s pirate costume is terribly tempting!