Welcome Dreamwalkers to our newest Creative Conversation. I invited author, artist, and inspirational blogger Molly Blaisdell here to talk about a subject I’ve been struggling with this past year. So let’s dive in.
Janet: Hey, Molly, it’s so good of you to stop by Dreamwalks. I’ve been wanting to talk with you about Creative Courage. Continuing to create is challenging for many of us, especially while we were in lockdown and various phases of the pandemic. My friends and I have been shoring each other up and reminding each other that we do not walk alone. I often find food for the journey in your Seize the Day blog. Quotes like the one below encourage me to me keep going.
“I will keep trying. I can respect this even if I ultimately fail. Giving up. This is the thing I can’t respect. So stay the course or plot a new one. You may choose to abandon a dream but never abandon dreaming.”
Molly: Respecting myself is an important theme in my life. I think you can face almost anything if you have self-respect. This is the well I draw from to move forward. We live in a society where creativity is often squashed in our school system. Does a creative work on a schedule? Do creatives succeed at standardized testing? Do creatives conform to norms? The creative brain doesn’t work like the analytical brain. The creative brain is marching to the beat of its own drum. In a way, creatives often spend some serious time in their lives swimming upstream. It makes courage extraordinarily difficult. You must have courage to share your voice, but you also must have courage to go against the tide.
Janet: It takes courage to go against the tide, and creativity often takes me to uncharted places, which are both scary and exhilarating! I like how you point out the fallacy of measuring ourselves using the Wrong Ruler of output, achievement, and success in society’s terms. I have to watch out for that ruler. Remind myself that I write to offer stories that take readers to new undreamed-of places that expand their understanding of community and their sense of belonging. I recently listened to a podcast with one of my favorite Buddhist teachers, Sharon Salzberg, who pointed out society teaches us to be overly concerned with numbers and how many people we’re influencing. She’s feeling differently about the importance of numbers now and found herself asking: “If what I offer changes one person, is that enough?” And then she thought, Yes, that’s enough. I felt myself breathe deep when I heard that. Ah . . . Courage to keep going.
Molly: I am here to contribute my verse. Walt Whitman is one of my besties. Those that have great influence in this hour, generations brought that to pass. Those that seem to have no influence in this hour may be cooking a marvelous future. We aren’t islands from one another. I am so over who has the biggest pile of moola or the most Twits following them. Sharon is right to reframe her success however she wishes. This kind of thinking has led me to live in this moment. Can my expression be enough? That I am here, and I live, and I love, and I hope. Is this enough? Courage is about facing whatever, and when whatever happens, charting the best course.
Janet. When you ask, “Can my expression be enough? That I am here, and I live, and I love, and I hope. Is this enough?” I want to say, Yes, Molly B! And charting a new course is a constant for all of us. Who would have imagined this pandemic, the personal losses for so many, and the worldwide changes we’ve all gone through? We’ve had to climb over and around so many obstacles in life and in our art. Courage isn’t waiting for an easy trail. Courage is pathfinding. You’ve kept working on books even through this past year. Where do you find the courage to keep going?
Molly: Once upon a time, I was a person who ran from fire. I mean, if there was a building on fire, and someone yelled fire, I ran the opposite direction. I found that I was missing the opportunity to make a difference as I ran away from whatever was scaring the hell out of me.
This led to the hard work of being. I had to learn how to be myself–to have my own opinions–to understand what I am willing to die for. Know yourself. (Sun Tzu, Socrates, Mrs. Crabtree, my kindergarten teacher–all the best folks advise this.) Self-discovery has built up my storehouse of courage.
You mentioned that courage is pathfinding. It was in the everyday that I found the way to navigate forward. No laughter: I make my bed every morning. I talk to my plants in the yard. I cuddle with my cats daily. This unchanging rhythm in my life has given me the sense that I am the captain of my fate (borrowed from Invictus by William E. Henley). I am the master of my soul. If I don’t do my thing, no one else will. I am a unique individual. I will never come again. This is my one unique shot to do anything. My creative courage springs out of the truth that this is my chance to shine, my belief that every little thing will shine, and the revelation that the light of others doesn’t snuff out my light but instead brings more light into what can be a very dark world.
Janet: Molly, maker of beds, plant talker, cat hugger, lightbringer, artist, and wordsmith, you take my breath away. We started our conversation by talking about the courage to keep creating art. You elevated the conversation to Courage to live this one life you’ve been given in the most authentic way you can.
Molly: I will close with some of the lessons from my everyday life. When I wake up, the bed is a mess; I will bring order and comfort to that mess, regardless if every pillow is on the floor and the lamp is under the bed again. Everyday. My plants live outside and face any number of trials and tribulations and have to endure whatever comes. They can’t run away. And by gosh, they are brave. Floods, heatwaves, cold snaps… My cats appreciate all that I do. Do you ever take time to reflect on how many living things appreciate you? Janet, the whole universe brought forth light some 14 billion years ago.
Every bit of matter that makes us was created in that instant and led to the opportunity of you and me being friends. Light and shadow were born in that instant, the chiaroscuro, the contrasts. We are lightbringers together. And it was 14 billion years in the making. This gives me creative courage to shine. Selah.
Janet: Thank you, Molly!
Molly’s latest Foray into Fiction
Molly writes for teens as Cece Barlow Check out PLUMB CRAZY, and WEIRD AND WONDERFUL.
Here’s the Link to Start Reading
Return again and again to our serialized story for the continuing adventures of four young warriors in a reimagined historical past where magic is real, and dragons lurk.
This epistolary fantasy adventure for middle-grade readers is on the new story platform Kindle Vella!
More About Molly
Molly Blaisdell is a dash of fun, mixed in with some smart cookie and a splash of capable. She’s the author of over 30 books for young children, including THE BIG FUZZY COAT (HMH), REMBRANDT AND THE BOY WHO DREW DOGS (Barron’s), and IF YOU WERE A QUADRILATERAL (Picture Window).
Through her company Caney Creek Books, she has released MAGIC CARPET NIGHT; CHICKENS DO NOT TAKE OVER HALLOWEEN; THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS, STARRING THE CHICKENS, written by Janet Lee Carey, illustrated by Molly.
Everyone ought to have a secret identity, and Molly is no different. She writes for teens as Cece Barlow and has published PLUMB CRAZY and WEIRD AND WONDERFUL.
Molly also illustrated Allyson Apsey’s THREE PRINCES OF SERENDIP (DBC).