When people complain to me that they don’t have time to read the Creative Mix Interviews and/or request a podcast or something they can skim, I understand. Our brains have been hijacked by the buzzing and beep of e-mails, texts, and messages on social media. We are constantly bombarded with “content” by bloggers and Internet gurus trying to sell us their wares.
I continue with the long-form interviews not because I’m stubborn (although I am), but because I believe they are valuable. When someone listens deeply during an interview, the mind of the person being interviewed opens. She often brings forward wisdom she did not know she possessed. Through culling and connecting dots during the editing process, that wisdom is transmitted.
In Writing a Woman’s Life, Carolyn Heilbrun claimed it wasn’t enough to witness the lives of our role models. Their stories need to be recorded. Women need to know how other women have rewritten the marriage and motherhood script, how faced the obstacles of their times and stepped up with their work. I think of the Creative Mix Interviews as an archive of women’s experience in the 21st Century, providing models for making art, supporting our families financially, while taking care of the home front.
That said, during the month of August I’ll be posting the top takeaways from recent interviews–wisdom in bite-size pieces that you can skim and stick on your fridge. The following excerpts and takeaways were culled from my recent interview with Brooke Warner of She Writes Press.
I met Brooke Warner in 2007 at the Agents and Editors conference, sponsored by the Writers League of Texas. Standing in the lobby of the Sheraton Hotel in Austin, Brooke was surrounded by young writers eager to get their manuscripts before her. She was Senior Editor at Seal Press then, a publishing house focusing on women’s writing. Seal’s list included books about rape and incest, about lesbian relationships, and about the difficulties of motherhood. Brooke stood patiently among her admirers, listening to pitch after pitch, thanking each woman who came before her and handing them her card.
I interviewed Brooke in the spot I first met her, at the Sheraton Hotel in Austin, where she was a speaker last spring for PubU. The following are a few nuggets of wisdom from our conversation.
1) Dare to begin
“People who have a perfectionist mentality get stuck in taking that next step. They think it’s supposed to be figured out or done. But the creative enterprise is its own breathing organism, and you show up and massage it and move it along.”
Perfectionism leads to paralysis. Dare to take the first step and then the next step. Get out of your comfort zone. Make mistakes so you can learn from them.
2) Find a Mentor
“I’m in favor of people finding support. I’ve had coaches and mentors all along the way. You can’t do this stuff alone. You can’t do it in a bubble.”
If more established women are not reaching out to you, reach out to them. Invest in yourself by investing money in a mentor relationship. We all need guidance and support.
3) Be a Mentor
“Mentorship is ingrained for men, less so for women. The people I admire are overtly supporting one another and opening doors for one another and not feeling the scarcity.”
Annie Dillard said, “the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.”
Share experience, knowledge and resources. You don’t have to give everything away, but don’t hoard either.
4) Use your platform to serve other women.
“I look to people aspiring to go beyond their little corner. How do you do something like that? It’s often times the successful memoirists who are able to do it, because they have bestselling books, and the ability to create a thriving platform on top of that. I think Cheryl Strayed has done it as well. I admire that. I think they’re both amazing.”
Most industry experts speak of platform in terms of promotion and sales. Brooke suggest we can use our reach to serve.
Read the full interview with Brooke here.