a guest post from Lucy Adkins
Huge thanks to Lucy Adkins, co-author of The Fire Inside, for sharing these words of wisdom. You’re always welcome here, Lucy, and so is Becky!
Are you a writer? A visual artist or musician? As my writing partner, Becky Breed, and I write in The Fire Inside, we are all creative, an inner fire aflame in us, urging us on. But it is not always easy—sticking to our writing or our art—we need to keep the faith.
I believe that the longer we live the creative life, creating poems or paintings, making music, loving our work, sometimes struggling in our work, the more we realize that our art is a calling, our birthright, a summons to create. And we are in it for the long haul. We may come to the realization gradually, or it may be that after two or three years of writing, it suddenly dawns on us that this obsession of ours is not going away. This is not the fad of the moment we pick up for a while, and then drop as interest wanes. It’s more like embarking on a marriage, building a relationship that will last a lifetime.
There will be hard times: days when it’s difficult to get to your easel, when the words for your poem won’t come, or if they do, limp onto the page and fall flat. Nothing worthwhile comes easy, the old saying goes, and that is certainly true of our passions, our art. Still, it is our passion, our deep love, and we want to keep at it, knowing that our lives would not be as rich or as full without it. So you find a way to keep the faith, to keep on going. How do we do that? Here are some tips:
- Look for the joy in the “every-day” of work. Relish those moments when the words flow from the tips of your fingers, when the brushstrokes come free and fluid.
- Read books like Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way and Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones. The Fire Inside is a good book too! These and other books provide gentle encouragement, and help keep you going.
- Set goals for yourself—such as writing a certain number of pages per month, or sending out a certain number of submissions—and ask a friend to hold you accountable.
- Celebrate your accomplishments—even the small ones. When you find the right color for your painting, the right word for your poem. Give yourself a pat on the back when you send out a story to a potential publisher.
- Develop a work schedule and stick to it as much as you can. Include in your schedule some down time, time to go “off-line” and free your mind.
- Don’t beat yourself up when you stray from your writing schedule or fall short of your goals. Give yourself a break. Be kind. Then get back on track.
- Become a part of your local artist community. A good writing group or artists’ group can provide a lifetime of support and encouragement, and is probably the very best thing you can do to nurture and sustain your creative life.
Elbert Hubbard said that “Art is not a thing, it is a way.” It is not the finished painting that that matters, the completed novel (though these accomplishments are wonderful!) It is the everyday of work—the violinist practicing, the writer writing, the many happinesses found in doing what we love. This is why we wrote The Fire Inside—the joy in creating. We hope you pick up a copy and explore its pages. We hope you get in touch with your inner fire—and keep it blazing.
The underlying principle of The Fire Inside is that we all have within us vast untapped reservoirs of creativity, and when we recognize and begin to connect with that potential, our lives will open in ways we cannot begin to imagine. Many books have been written about the art and craft of individual disciplines of creativity. Yet few are so inclusive, so welcoming as this book, offering insight not only for furthering ones abilities in the traditional arts, but also in our day to day creativity, which so enriches our lives.
Based on the authors’ combined fifty-five years of teaching, working with writing groups and providing workshops on writing and creativity, The Fire Inside is written in a spirit of warmth and generosity. It invites the reader to:
~Say yes to creativity and the nurturing it provides
~Choose to live a bigger life
~Uncover inner sources of inspiration and discover how “the magic” happens
~Become a part of the creative community
~Let go of forces that try to limit you
~Develop skills for what it takes to live more creatively
~Locate the “sweet spot” needed to build your life as an artist and creative being
Wherever one may be in his or her creative life—just tiptoeing in or fully immersed in the life of the imagination, The Fire Inside will be a companion in that life, a source of encouragement and inspiration. The manuscript is composed short essays designed to provide a daily dose of support and motivation. It includes anecdotes, inspirational quotations and end of chapter meditations and exercises which ask Why not me? What gets in my way of being creative? In what unknown ways am I waiting to blossom.
More and more, we hunger for meaning and for opportunities of self-expression. The Fire Inside, in its bite-sized essays which can be read in five or ten minute increments, speaks to that hunger, and provides a source of the creative nourishment we all need.
About the Authors
Lucy Adkins earned her MFA from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and is a writer of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Her poetry and short fiction have appeared in many journals and anthologies, and her first poetry chapbook, One Life Shining, was published by Pudding House Press. She co-presents the Nebraska Humanities program “Diaries and Letters of Early Nebraska Settlers,” and is a frequent writing instructor for OLLI, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, and the Larksong Writers’ Workshops. Her book, Two-Toned Dress, was the winner of the 2019 Blue Light Press poetry chapbook contest.
WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:
Becky Breed, a veteran educator, poet, and essayist, co-wrote and facilitated “Women at the Springs,” a Nebraska Humanities program empowering women to
live more courageously, as well as “The Intergenerational Project” connecting elders and teens through stories to promote communication, writing, and use of the
media. She has an Ed.D. in Education, and in addition to teaching at the university level, was the principal of a Gold Star School which was awarded recognition for significant improvements in reading, writing, and math. The students’ resiliency and drive to be the best they can be helped shape the fabric for several
of the enclosed essays.
Together the two co-authored Writing in Community: Say Goodbye to Writer’s Block and Transform Your Life, which was awarded an “IPPY” in the Independent Publishers Book Awards. Writing in Community, the first book in their “Essential Writing and Creativity” series, along with the impact of Adkins’ and Breed’s many presentations and workshops led to their being named winners of the 2020 Lincoln, Nebraska Mayor’s Arts Award in Artistic Achievement in Literature.