a conversation on creativity, discipline, process & purpose

a conversation with Rachel Federman

i’ve recently made a new friend.
in a weird reductionist world
where we communicate in 140 characters or less…

kinships kindled on Twitter are thus unique.
and often fleeting.
and at times, consequential…

woven by generosity–the gift of pause–in the swift landscape of second by second tweets–like these sweet connectors of mine…



this latest twitter friendship was seeded when Rachel Federman liked one of my tweets.
and then another. and another.
then she followed me.
and i followed her back.

next she took a big leap.
she clicked on a link that left Twitter and led to my blog.
she was a generous reader.
i told her so.


this 140 character connection continued into a second month…

until she returned to my blog
and silenced me
with this:


i remained silent for days and days.
contemplating her words.
receiving them.
rejecting them.
dismissing them.
and finally, weaving them into another piece.
wondering if this was the ending of our brief affair.


rachel didn’t blink.
instead she pierced me further.


i took a deep breath and tweeted back.
to my surprise, she “liked” it and “retweeted” it.
(others did too.)


ever since, i’ve been contemplating how we might continue this conversation,
and how we might let the conversation serve others.

with her generosity…

and my vulnerability…


i hope she likes it…

here goes…



13 thoughts on “a conversation on creativity, discipline, process & purpose

  1. Rachel, I’ve been responding to this in my mind for weeks now…

    “I’m curious when you say you don’t know if you want to be my kindred spirit in this. I’m curious b/c I am also torn. I am frustrated with my many drafts of different novels. My rough short stories. More than a hundred songs. Half essays. Unfinished, always hurtling forward. I used to think of it as lack of focus but then, reading about the science of creativity, I came to accept that this is a kind of true creativity. The quality for finishing a project is different than creativity. Those driven to finish books, say, tend to score lower on creativity than others who just keep going and going and going…”

    If I were to answer in 140 characters, I would respond by saying that I’m currently reading two books (actually more than a dozen, but two will address this conversation best):

    Sark’s, Make Your Creative Dreams Real–a plan for procrastinators, perfectionists, busy people, and people who would really rather sleep all day.

    (Sark just used up all my characters.)


    Daniel Goleman’s, Focus–the hidden driver of excellence.


  2. I’ve written about it today on my blog here: http://lastamericanchildhood.blogspot.com/

    I’m mildly fascinated that my comments, I guess I’ll say, affected you to the degree that they did. Not sure if I should be sorry or glad that they seem to have pierced, as we want to be pierced, at least I did when I was younger. Nothing more than conversation that pushed me to the limit and made me truly re-think and reflect and maybe change course or continue on the one I was already on with more conviction.


    1. Ooooh. I just read your post, and I’m JEALOUS of your writing, your insights, the way you communicate them, the poetry of what you’re communicating. I mean I admire it. Truly.

      I think you’re right about the “throw-back” feeling; though at my age, the 90s is just a second ago. I’d have to place you in my own college years–the 80s.

      I love that we’re time traveling and presencing with technology and asymmetric time. So feminine of us! (I saw your comment about the feminine/mystery on my Let Your Yoga Dance offering.)

      I obviously do like piercing, but I’m suspicious of those with the capacity to enter my space so adeptly. (Like my partner of 30 years.)

      Thank you?

      I love that you’re not on Facebook which forced me to imagine another venue for connection in what appeared to me as ripe and inviting and just a tad threatening. I still have so much to say to what you wrote originally. But I have to pace myself.


  3. Wait now can I post *your* comment here on my blog over there? My not being on FB is a current obsession of mine (as I feel more and more untethered, in good and bad ways, can you feel more untethered or just less tethered?)


  4. Oh, and I thought this might be relevant to the discussion. This is all from Bertie Kingore.

    A Creative Thinker
    Bertie Kingore, Ph.D.

    Sees exceptions.
    Daydreams; may seem off task.
    Overflows with ideas, many of which will never be developed.
    Plays with ideas and concepts.
    Injects new possibilities.
    Shares bizarre, sometimes conflicting opinions.
    Questions: What if…
    Questions the need for mastery.
    Prefers the company of creative peers but often works alone.
    Relishes wild, off-the-wall humor.
    Makes mental leaps: Aha!
    Initiates more projects that will ever be completed.
    Is independent and unconventional.
    Is original and continually developing.
    Enjoys creating.
    Is an inventor and idea generator.
    Creates and brainstorms well.
    Is intuitive.
    Is never finished with possibilities.
    May not be motivated by grades.
    Is idiosyncratic.


    Szabos, J. (1989). Bright child, gifted learner. Challenge, 34. Good Apple.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Rachel,

    I’d like to think that not only can I have both: focus and “spreading tentacles” of creativity,
    and more than that. I’d like to think that they feed each other.

    That could be a juicy rationalization, or it could be true. More likely it’s both.


    1. That’s one of those compliments that will keep buzzing around my head, cheering me on, for days/weeks/months/…

      What do you think of this, in relation to our conversation?

      ~What is needed, rather, is the production of meaning that resists distraction. Consumer capitalism thrives by simultaneously creating human loneliness and commodifying a thousand cures for it. One form of resistance to it is the experience in art and life of a human intimacy achieved through sustained attention to what lies beyond and outside the sphere of the market.

      (Adam Haslett, The Perpetual Solitude of the Writer)

      And also, how about you? The balance of focus and creative impulse…?


  6. I thought I had left a reply here. That is a great quote. This so totally applies to a Writing for Social Justice course I am hoping to develop. I have to check out that book. Yes – we can resist distraction and the endless consumption it feeds by insisting on these real conversations. Somehow I feel like I have to put “real” in quotes given that we’ve never met and there is perhaps something about the public-ness of a blog or twitter convo that could lead to self-censorship. Still, a commenter on my blog (whom I’ve never met) wrote about how commenting on each other’s blogs is the closest thing now to what letter writing used to be, and I agree. Thank you for keeping this going.


    1. Rachel,

      Thanks for being “real” with me.

      It’s a theme that keeps popping up lately.

      Writing for Social Justice seems a perfect fit for our times.

      I’m reading It’s Not the End of the World, Developing Resilience in the Times of Change (well, actually, my husband is reading it first.)

      I find that I lose the pulse of my main creative writing project (a work of memoir) as the world around me heats up–the world inside my home, community, state, country, etc etc etc.

      I wonder, how do you (and others like us 🙂 maintain space for your creative projects that aren’t as succinctly related to these times…



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