Sister Friends. Chosen family. The women who are there, no matter what, the ones who don’t give a rat’s patootie what your house looks like. The ones who are always ready to come for a sleep-over and eat whatever is in your cabinets and refrigerators. The ones who will parent your kid if you’re not there to do it. The friend you can tell anything to and know that they will 1.) not judge you, 2.) call you on your ish if you need it, 3.) cheer you on and tell you to go for it. My wife and I are fortunate to have a number of sister friends. This weekend one of our local sister friends came to visit. She’s fun and funny, and hella smart. Our kids get along and disappear to play their own games, so we can sit and sip good beer, and talk about anything and everything. We help each other, offering love and support in our personal lives, and in our professional lives.
Four years, 175 blog posts, and five books ago we sat in my living room one icy cold January after we had tucked the kids in bed, fueled by some amazing stout we spent the evening brainstorming this blog. We voted on a name from several I had written down, and in general mapped out my career. Fast forward to this spring, more beer, family talk, writing advice, career goal discussion, and after a hard rain, a rainbow. Fitting, and accurate for our time together. My wish for all of you is sister-friends and rainbows.
Brenda Murphy writes short fiction and novels. She loves tattoos and sideshows and yes, those are her monkeys. When she is not loitering at her local tea shop and writing, she wrangles two kids, one dog, and an unrepentant parrot. She reviews books, blogs about life as a writer with ADHD and publishes photographs on her blog Writing While Distracted. You can find her on Facebook by clicking here.
Books available at
Both Ends of the Whip
Sum of the Whole
Dominique and Other Stories
I want every creative person to write this down and put it where they can see it every day. Because it is the number one way non-creatives assign value to what we do. “How much did you make for that? Did it sell? Are you still wasting your time? Why don’t you get a job?” The hidden message in these type of statements is your worth as a person depends on your ability to make money.
After a steady stream of these types of questions, it is easy to think you are wasting your time, that no one will ever pay for your work, that your work is worthless. None of this is true, the act of creating has value. Letting other people suggest that you have no value as a person because you don’t make money with your creative work, is ridiculous, but oh so easy to believe. Stop. Don’t listen. You are not your paycheck. You have value. Your work has value. Do not let other people derail your creative endeavors. So what if you choose to spend your time writing, taking photographs, painting, drawing, or making collages? So what? Hold fast to your creativity. Hold fast to your dreams. Hold fast to your own values and beliefs. Do not let other people stifle you.
This waterfall starts somewhere as a little trickle. Keep going.
One of the questions writers hear over and over is: Where do you get your ideas?, often followed by the statement: I’m just not creative. I don’t have a hard time answering the first. I get my ideas from everything I see, read, experience, and bits of the world I discover, often while looking for something else. Like this picture of my grandmother and her best friend.
One day I will tell a story about this photo. I found it looking through a photo album at my mother’s house. I made a copy of the photo and added it to my flat file where I keep bits and pieces of ideas until I have enough to put together a project.
The second statement is so hard to hear. I detest the idea that creativity is a gift. I don’t think it is, because there are so many ways to be creative. It is not only writing, drawing, or painting or any of traditional ideas of what being creative means. Being creative is allowing yourself time to think, to do something only you could produce with your thoughts, and hands, and time.
Lack of time is the greatest barrier to creativity. If you want to create you have to set time aside to think, to plan, to play with your ideas, and to experiment. If you want to create make a plan, schedule it into your life. Set aside time to think and discover. Anyone can create. Fine arts are only one aspect of creativity. Do you like to make changes and adapt recipes? That is being creative. Do you spend time decorating your home or planting a garden? That is being creative. Creativity is what happens when you stop and let yourself imagine, and dream. Give yourself permission to look at life sideways. Take the walk, visit the museum, read, and absorb the world around you. Creativity is a habit. It is work. Rewarding, delightful, soul filling work. Do the work.
This year has been a rollercoaster with some fantastic highs, and some very stressful lows I achieved some goals that have been years it the making. I’ve had two novel published and have signed a contract for a third. I am a firm believer in goals setting and planning, and my life is so predictable I usually am able to execute my plans. But this summer I learned the value of being flexible as I spent the summer in hospitals, first with my daughter when she broke her arm and required surgery to repair it, and then with my mom as we sorted through different options to treat her cardiac issues. And then this month it was my turn. I had unexpected but necessary surgery the week of Christmas. My family and friends were fantastic, my parents making the eight hour drive to come and help my wife and I with our kids and to care for me. I’m still recovering, but the way I have felt for the last month gives me even more respect for those that deal with chronic health conditions. As the year closes I’ve been forced to sit, never easy for me, but I’ve used the time to think, and plan. In this time before the New Year starts take some time, to sit and think, make some plans, and set some goals for the New Year but remember to stay flexible and build in some time to reconsider, and regroup if life does not go as planned. I’m spending the next three weeks with my family, filling the well. Wishing you all a very happy healthy new year.
This week I will have been married for ten years. In that ten years my wife and I have lived in three states, had twins, owned three dogs, and one rowdy parrot. Cared for our parents through strokes, heart attacks and cancer. Suffered the loss of a child. So much life and history between us.
We have loved and supported and encouraged each other during the six books we have written and had published.
I have listened to many writers praise their partners for “tolerating my writing.” I always wince when I hear the word tolerate. To tolerate something means that you put up with it, like it is something that is difficult to do. I want to say to those writers: don’t settle. Don’t settle for tolerance. Do not tolerate tolerance.
Find someone who celebrates your writing. Find someone who is as excited as you are about a beautiful book cover. Find someone that understands when you get up in the middle of the night to write down the plot bunny that scampered through your dreams. Find someone you can laugh with no matter what else is going on in your lives. When you find that person hold on with both hands.