Lighting up the World, one unbathed creative heart at a time . . . ♥


I’m reminded this morning, by Debbie (who left us a comment here last night) about something we talked about during the Creative Connection event.  While on stage, our panel of entrepreneurial women, spoke about lots of subjects, near and dear to the creative heart; sharing our experiences with anyone out there wrestling with such things as mental blocks (as in running out of creative gas); we talked about mistakes we’ve made that turned out good after all; about how, as creative people first, we dealt with the business side of what we do.  I recited a quote at the end of the discussion that went like this…

Because we were talking about how lonely writing and painting with deadlines can be; and how each of us handles the ups and downs of it.  How thrilling it is (for me) when I’ve painted something I like, thought of a good story, or found the perfect quote to say what’s in my heart; but there’s also hunkering down, waiting for the next inspiration that seems to take years to arrive.  It can be frustrating, and no one can really help you out of it.  You know how it feels when you have what seems to be an unsolvable problem!  The only way to it is through it; it’s truly a part of the creative life (the life we’re all creating everyday). I’ve grown so accustomed to these “down” times, that I call that blank space where nothing seems to be happening “the foundation for the creation” — I think my brain is working on it, even though I can’t see anything going on.

The girls on our panel talked about being so engrossed in our work that sometimes we didn’t take showers for days.  I knew that happened to me, and I was so HAPPY to see them all nodding in agreement. Hard to believe, they all looked so clean and cute!

 The first time it happened to me, I was working on my first book, I had just sold it to Little Brown and they’d given me six months to finish the other 112 pages they requested. I lived alone, it was winter, and I’d been wearing the same “outfit” for three days, sweat pants, t-shirt, old sweater, scruffy slippers . . . because I was driven, excited about what I was painting and writing, and it was coming so quickly, I could hardly stand to go to sleep at night. I went from bed to art table.  And back.  It was really good I lived alone.

I ate, standing up, in the romantic ambience of refrigerator light, chicken leg in hand. Wipe off grease, dry hands on pants, run back to paint brush.  Very Very Bad.  Hair was unspeakable. I felt like an overcooked fava bean.

The third night, the phone rang, it was my best friend Diana, calling from California. She wanted to know how I was doing. “Oh Diane, I’m so glad you can’t see me! I can’t get away from the art table; it’s going good, but I haven’t had a shower in three days, my hair is in strings, I’m disgusting.” I went on and on, poor poor pitiful me, branching out into weight, number of cigarettes smoked (because, yes, I did) and glasses of wine imbibed.

And darling, wonderful, dearest Diane said.  “Hey!  Do you think Picasso smelled good when he worked?”

And no, I sure don’t think he did.  Wasn’t that the PERFECT thing to say?  That’s what I mean about girlfriends. How could we live without them.

After I mentioned that quote at the end of the panel discussion, someone came up to me from the audience and said, “Maybe if we all light a great bonfire and all throw ourselves in, it might light up the whole world and never be dark again.”  I fell in love with her immediately.

OK, Girlfriends, taking my book (A Redbird Christmas) off to ride the bike in the exercise room here in Madison, Wisconsin …. we get back on the train this afternoon.  Bye for now!  Say Hi to everyone for me.  WILLARD starts going out tomorrow! 

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160 Responses to Lighting up the World, one unbathed creative heart at a time . . . ♥

  1. Candra Fisher says:

    I love fall, the swirling leaves, hot cider on a chilly day and my yearly Leaf walk with my grandkids. We jump in the leaves singing silly songs. And laugh…….Fall is a time to remind me of all that I have to be grateful for. Graditude of the heart for life, for fall, for the love we all share.

  2. Debbie D. says:

    I so love your beautiful colorful photos. It helps me get through the work day when I’m stressed to take a peak at your blog and escape just for a little while. Looking at the fall leaves took me back to my childhood. Thank you for posting those.

  3. Cheryl Mays says:

    My favorite sign of Autumn is the urge to make that first pot of vegetable soup with cornbread, and also placing your Autumn book on the desk for guests and me tocurl up with

  4. Maureen Dunn says:

    Oh the first chilly day and I receive a e-mail from my dear friend Susan!! Hot chocolate, bacon and eggs, toast melted with butter. As I look out my window and see the trees turn color and know I have another fall and the coming Holidays and more stories and beautiful pictures from Susan! My old heart is full and I’m thankful to be alive one more day!! Thank you susan for bringing me such smiles!

  5. Rosie Cann says:

    Oooh no, it’s 22.24 here in England, I guess it’s past midnight in your part of the world!! I may have missed the boat!!! I love the shiny brown horse chestnuts bursting out of their prickly cases and carpeting the ground beneath these beautiful trees, I collected pocketfuls as a child; I love the low lying mist on Autumn mornings revealing smoky outlines of trees on the horizon; the smell of woodsmoke; I pamper my urge to go and buy knitting wool and a funky pattern ready for the dark evenings; I’m even getting the urge to go and chop logs! Happy Autumn days!

    • sbranch says:

      You’re in plenty of time Rosie, it’s only 3:30 pm here in California! Thank you for those pretty thoughts!

  6. Denise Allen says:

    My new favorite thing about Fall is your Autumn book that I just purchased chock full of lovely recipes & fun decorating ideas! I love this book & relish it over & over again!
    I live in Connecticut and my other very favorite thing in Fall is taking country drives with my husband, stopping to take pictures and gathering leaves and buying pumpkins and mums and stopping for cider and maple melts!!!! Glad you asked!!!! It’s time for a country drive!!!!!!!!!! 🙂

  7. Anita shortland says:

    Hot cocoa and a cozy fire are Falls best!!

  8. Michelle Freiling says:

    My favorite thing about fall is hearing and seeing my 4 years old excitement of the weather changing thru his Mother and also hearing “Mom are the costumes on sale yet?”

  9. Mary Jo Gleason says:

    My favorite part of the fall season is the smells. Apple pie baking, crisp night air, soup simmering, the first cozy fire, children laughing and talking on the way to school. Autumn wakes up the senses. Enjoy the special moments any day can bring.

  10. Marita says:

    The onset of fall reminds me of taking “nature walks” w/my daughter when she was young. We collected treasures like acorns, various leaves for waxing (to be used as bookmarks), walnuts and if lucky, a butterfly or two. Never will I forget the fall day she proudly burst through the door announcing she had been on a “nature walk” all by herself and proudly held up her trophy – a flat-as-cardboard dead cat with barely visable fur! 😮 Without a heartbeat, she asked “can we keep it”? We both still mightily laugh at this memory of our fall nature walks . . .

  11. Kathleen says:

    What a beautiful tribute to your dad. I felt the same way about my dad, who was a woodcarver and used his hands every day to make beautiful things.
    My favorite thing about autumn are the colors. It’s kind of a sad time, I think, as nature gets ready for a winter rest.
    I love vintage quilts and quilts of all kinds. I would love to be entered into your contest.
    I absolutely love your blog and agree that train travel is the best!

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