I’m running a new series of guest posts throughout 2015: Fetish Friday. Don’t get all sweaty in the pants—I’m going back to an older definition of the word, and asking artists to show us something that helps them with the ritual of creation, some part of their surroundings—physical or mental—that eases the path into the creative state, whether it be a location, a piece of music, person, picture, a doohickey, whatnot, curio or ornament without which the creative process would be a whole lot more difficult.
Please welcome Western Australian children’s author Teena Raffa-Mulligan:
There’s a little butterfly on the wall just inside the door of my office and that’s probably appropriate because the man in my life says that’s what I am. I suppose it’s an apt enough description. I do flit from one interesting life experience to the next and there’s no question I am a bit of a butterfly when it comes to writing, never settling for long on one project.
That’s not a problem when I’m working on a poem, short story or picture book text. Usually those ideas grab my imagination and won’t let go till I’ve sifted and sorted the words into a satisfying shape. They get stuck in my mind and a lot of the writing gets done off the page while I’m going about my everyday life. I scribble random sentences and paragraphs on scrap paper as they take shape and when I finally sit down at the computer, it’s a bit like doing a jigsaw puzzle. I simply put the various story or poem fragments in the right order and play around with them until all the pieces feel like they’re slotted into the right place. Easy!
It’s a different story when it comes to writing anything of substantial length. That’s a real challenge for me. The butterfly approach is not recommended. That’s when I do need help. Walking works…so does riding my bike along the beach path, swimming, weeding the garden, sweeping the floor, ironing my clothes. There’s something about getting physical that triggers my creative brain. I don’t consciously think about the next scene of the novel I’m working on but there it is, waiting to be written down. Yet I could sit at the computer all day and be completely lost for words.
So the novels grow slowly and haphazardly. Often I will leave the document file open on my computer and duck in and out of my office as I get ideas for the next paragraph or block of dialogue. Sometimes I do try to be more productive, setting daily word counts and deadlines. It doesn’t work. That’s when I eat, usually almonds and apples. Sometimes cheese or chocolate.
A glance in the direction of the smiling spirit guide drawing on the easel near my desk reminds me there’s no need to force the story – it will come in its own time if I make the space.
Teena Raffa-Mulligan is a writer, reader and day dream believer. Her publications include poems, picture books, short stories, early reader chapter books and a novel.
Are you a creative artist? Fancy joining in and letting us know about that special item, object, location or cosmic state of being at the heart of your creative process? There’s always room for another lunatic in the asylum: email me and make your most excited Horshack noise.