Month: June 2024

Structuring Life to Support Creativity is Funded!

My book project went live yesterday morning and funded in less than a day. (You can see the project here!) That first day of crowdfunding is always a flurry of hope and fear. I felt anxious all day yesterday as I watched the numbers increment. I worried that I would lose heart if I had to spend a month trying to convince people to buy it. Instead I am sitting here with the tremendous gift of knowing that people trust enough in what I have to say that they’ll buy my book based only on my name, a summary, and a pretty cover. I am humbled and grateful even further by how many people spoke up and vouched for me that I’m worth listening to. I feel the weight of that trust, like a deeply comforting weighted blanket that calms my anxiety and lets me feel at peace for the first time in months. I get to make my book and people want to read it. I am so fortunate to get to have this experience, one that not every writer gets to have.

Of course, anxiety will absolutely return, especially as I work through my final revision and copy editing passes. There will be ample opportunities for imposter syndrome to make me doubt the power of my own words. When that happens, I hope I can remember the feeling of today. In the meantime, I still have lots of work to do, both to help this project reach stretch goals and to make sure I can deliver on the trust I’ve been given.

Book title: Structuring Life to Support Creativity A resource book for creative people by Sandra Tayler. Image shows a charming watercolor drawing of a house and building, but the colors fade away to reveal the black and white sketch underlying the art. In front of the house colored pencils, thread, paint brushes and other creative tools are lined up like a fence.

Writer’s Retreat in Minnesota

The birds outside my window are not the ones I am accustomed to hearing. The regular drizzle of all-day rain is unlike the storm bursts that come and go in my high desert home. The ticks are certainly not at all a familiar hazard. I’ve come to Minnesota to be with other writers, to talk, to think, to create words. Yet when I’m alone with my thoughts I am distracted by difference that my brain wants to notice, evaluate, understand. I don’t mind. I’ve learned that for me writing retreats are rarely my most productive moments if you’re measuring in word count. I’m too drawn to the newness of being outside my regular patterns, to the oddity of only consulting my own schedule rather than considering the entwining net of habit and obligation that holds me fast at home. I always accomplish things, but they’re rarely what I expected to accomplish when I packed for the trip. I’ve learned not to judge myself for that. And I’ve gone on retreats often enough that this is a familiar flavor of unfamiliarity. I know how to approach it and when to retreat into the comforts I brought with me.

This retreat is in Minnesota at a location with miles of walking trails and a small marshland lake. I’m on staff in a supporting role that hasn’t been particularly heavy because everyone is taking care of each other. This means I can sit off to the side and observe as our little pop-up community connects and coalesces. I love when they self-organize around activities, some of them playing games that they packed along, others gathering in groups to read aloud to each other. I am not the only one pulled out of her usual context. We all have the opportunity to experience something different, to collect new thoughts, new connections, and new ways to interact with the world around us.

Yesterday I spent sunset hour at the marsh sitting on a bench. I’d doused myself in mosquito spray, but my seat on a floating dock was in full sunshine and the mosquitoes weren’t a bother there. It is not often in my life that I take an entire hour to just watch birds and the changing light on water. I listened to frogs drumming and even was surprised by a raccoon who got within five feet of me before either of us noticed the other. Once we did, the racoon immediately decided to have business elsewhere. I was impressed with how healthy and fuzzy the critter looked without the harried and desperate look that I see in city wildlife.

This evening I plan to go in search of fireflies. I’ve seen a few, but I went out too late in the evening to see their full show. Today I’ve set an alarm and I know where to go. I’ll spray against mosquitoes, defending against one bug while deliberately seeking another one. I have two and a half days left to experience new, then I return to familiar.

The Whys of Structuring Life to Support Creativity

Writing a book requires force of will. I’m feeling that as I push forward on the work necessary to bring Structuring Life to Support Creativity into being. I have to believe enough or care enough to push past all the speed bumps and road blocks. I’ve had many on this project. The most recent being when a freelance editor turned the project down and within 24 hours I had researched and sent out a contact to a different one. One of the questions that lives in my brain is “why now?” Why am I so confident and persistent for this project when my writing career was back burner for so long?

 Some of it is clearly necessity. This is the project I believe has an audience that will show up for it, an audience I have within my reach. An audience that will buy the book so that it can be self funding and potentially also fund some of my life expenses as well. This is the project that builds a platform which can boost other opportunities in my creative life. I definitely have financial and career urgency that is helping me keep going in the face of obstacles.

But there is something beyond that. Because writing a book is definitely not the simplest or lowest stress path to financial stability. A job with a paycheck would be much more guaranteed to provide that.

There are people who need this book. I know that because every time I give a presentation around one of the concepts in the book, I have audience members come and thank me. More impressively there are the people who come to talk to me years later and tell me how something I taught was transformative for them. Those moments aren’t about me.  I was merely the conduit for a piece of information that sparked change inside that person. They then put in the work and organization to turn that spark into transformation. In that moment I bear witness to the change, the work, the transformation and I’m always honored that people choose to let me see. To participate in helping others grow is a wonderful work that I want to do more of, and a book can reach much farther than an in person presentation. It persists in the way that a class doesn’t unless it is recorded.

In addition to participating in the growth of others, I’ve grown myself. In the past five years I’ve learned how to step forward and claim space rather than simply occupying whatever space was left available. I’ve learned to own my accumulated expertise even though most of it doesn’t come with official certifications or degrees. I’ve learned to value myself and my work, which has allowed me to put that work into the center of my daily schedules instead of allowing it to be pushed aside by other things. Centering my work in my life is how I have a completed book draft that is ready for funding and editing. The existence of the completed book is evidence of those daily centering decisions.

Joy is the last reason for “why now.” I’m going to get to have a book. I’ve got a cover that I love. I’m going to get to work with an editor to make the book better. Depending on funding, I might get to work with an illustrator for interior. Then I’ll get to have my book on the table when I run a booth at conventions. All of these are joyful experiences that I get to have as part of making this project happen. In the flurry and stress of the project it is easy to lose track of the joy. I’m so happy that that I get to make this book.