Creative Obsession


I have been asked how the creative process works with me. Where my ideas come from, when and where do I write, and the most basic question of all: why?

You can ask Becky. When I’m not working on a project, when my mind is not engaged in a story, I am impossible to live with. Yes, the nice little lady you know as Fai becomes a bundle of nerves seeking out problems to solve. Becky would much rather see me working out imaginary problems for imaginary people rather than inspecting our walls for cracks, timing the draining cycle of our washing machine, and counting our forks yet again.

But my mind is like that. It seeks things to solve and it ponders what could go wrong. I’m learning to train these obsessive thoughts (since I can’t seem to stop them) into turbines of creativity. I find when I’m working, I don’t obsess. My mind automatically works through my fictional characters’ drama step by step. It’s when I reach the end of the creative process and enter the editing and marketing phase that I drop off into the abyss. But that’s a challenge most creative people struggle with.

My ideas come to me when I’m busy doing something else. While I’m washing dishes, I watch Pepe outside stalking a squirrel. Absurd conversations and schemes of squirrel chaos pop into my head and soon I’m drying my hands and grabbing pen and paper to record their dangerous secret plans. Pepe of Noswad and his mission becomes real. Forget Me Not came to me as I was driving home after taking Becky to the airport. The point of inspiration: passing a hitchhiker. Beyond the Black Stump was inspired by cattle stations in the Outback, Australia. Please Understand grew out of a dream I had after I fell asleep listening to a song I liked in the 70’s.

I fall in love with the characters. I write their hopes, dreams, fears, lives onto the page. Words that are strong, words that are weak, words that describe the people and places that populate my mind are woven together. It’s a scary place, my mind. It makes me vulnerable to open it up to you. It’s a very humbling experience.

I’ve carved out a small space in a room that had once been a small attic storage room. I can stand in the center of the room. My table loaded down with computer and printer is under the sloping ceiling. The rain comforts me as it falls, as often happens in Washington State. The guest bed is in there, and sometimes Pepe curls up on the quilt to encourage me. Moxie guards me in the hallway outside the door. She reminds me when I need to eat or go for a walk to clear the emotion out of my heart. It’s good in my studio.

Oh. And the why question. The only answer I have is very simple. I simply must.