Monday, March 18, 2013

#GuestPost An Open Book: The Vulnerability of Authentic Creativity by Julia Newman

My favorite part of hosting author signings and discussions is fielding the questions that come after reading from my short story collection, The Loose Lip Brigade. Because I usually advertise my website, Feed Me Daily, in these event promotions, people come with any number of ideas and curiosities about who I am and how I write. Feed Me Daily is mainly a blog about my struggles with Depression, eating disorder addictions, and general growing-up fits and starts. But I tell these autobiographical tales through the lens of hope and loving kindness, connecting the tumult with action and mediation that resonate with my readers and offer them a sense of belonging. Writing – either fiction or nonfiction – is the most important way that I have learned I am not alone.  
The Loose Lip Brigade is similarly themed. The collection explores the internal push-and-pull plaguing its characters in moments of anxiety. There is inaction and action, impulse and desire, fear and self-doubt. As the book’s title alludes, “loose lips sink ships” and many of the characters find themselves with uncomfortable impulses that often betray their sense of self with un-gratifying consequence.  So, like me, like my struggles, the characters of The Loose Lip Brigade get in their own way. Don't we all?

The life that many of us strive to create for ourselves, one fostering our creativity and keeping us motivated, can often feel elusive. There is always more to be done, there is always someone else doing it better – at least that’s how we perceive it. Paralysis can become a replacement for comfort. Our urge to retreat may weigh heavily as the whirlwind of self-criticism swamps our minds and uproots our more centered thinking.

Have you tangoed with demons? Have you also struggled to suppress an impulse while shrinking from desire or become paralyzed, overwhelmed? These are questions resonating pages of my collection. Escape there, and connect. Feel how real we all are. Love. Sex. The facade of ok-ness. Misplaced anger. Above all, hesitation. The same hesitation so many of us feel towards that blank white page.

Why do imagine our muse to be so fickle and frustrating? Why is uncertainty so restraining?

To create the life I want for myself requires self-awareness and the commitment to self-affirmation. Inspiration ebbs and flows. And like the tides, it can surge and froth and feel endlessly invigorating. And it can also lap at the shore, without power, simply waiting. It is then that we question whether it will ever return to full churning.

It would be exhausting to be constantly flooded with our creativity. So why do we berate ourselves at those times when the waters are calm and our writing an exceptional effort? Why do we plaster our walls with diagrams and stuff post-it notes in every corner of our lives in order to be ready for the next swell of inspiration, clinging and grasping?

The truth is, we are allowed to trust our creative energy. It is an eternal well whose water we don't need to hoard. Simply respond to the present, frenzied or still, and know that this part of you will never fade.

So be ruthless and brave. Acknowledge the hiccups, make mistakes, sit on the couch (but not forever). Through our vulnerability, our true voice becomes so much more attractive to readers. It’s too bad that the characters of The Loose Lip Brigade have not all learned the same lessons as their creator.

Preferred point of
Feed Me Daily (personal blog and website):Feed Me Daily
Goodreads: Author Profile
Author Bio: Julia Newman is author of the short story collection, The Loose Lip Brigade. Before writing, Julia worked in film with Lena Dunham oof HBO's "Girls" and on the set of "Beasts of The Southern Wild." Her website, Feed Me Daily is a creative force in the online worlds of women's health, mental illness, recovery, and humor. She lives near Boston, where she studied Creative Writing at the Harvard Extension School.

Enter to Win The Loose Lip Brigade Paperback at Goodreads [ends May 14]

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