Wherever you are in your creative life—just tiptoeing in or fully immersed, The Fire Inside can be a source of encouragement and inspiration…
By Lucy Adkins & Becky Breed
Title: THE FIRE INSIDE: A COMPANION FOR THE CREATIVE LIFE
Author: Lucy Adkins & Becky Breed
Publisher: WriteLife Publishing
Genre: Creativity / Self-Help
The underlying principle of The Fire Inside is that we all have within us vast untapped reservoirs of creativity, and when we recognize and begin to connect with that potential, our lives will open in ways we cannot begin to imagine. Many books have been written about the art and craft of individual disciplines of creativity. Yet few are so inclusive, so welcoming as this book, offering insight not only for furthering ones abilities in the traditional arts, but also in our day to day creativity, which so enriches our lives.
Based on the authors’ combined fifty-five years of teaching, working with writing groups and providing workshops on writing and creativity, The Fire Inside is written in a spirit of warmth and generosity. It invites the reader to:
Say yes to creativity and the nurturing it provides
Choose to live a bigger life
Uncover inner sources of inspiration and discover how “the magic” happens
Become a part of the creative community
Let go of forces that try to limit you
Develop skills for what it takes to live more creatively
Locate the “sweet spot” needed to build your life as an artist and creative being
Wherever one may be in his or her creative life—just tiptoeing in or fully immersed in the life of the imagination, The Fire Inside will be a companion in that life, a source of encouragement and inspiration. The manuscript is composed short essays designed to provide a daily dose of support and motivation. It includes anecdotes, inspirational quotations and end of chapter meditations and exercises which ask Why not me? What gets in my way of being creative? In what unknown ways am I waiting to blossom.
More and more, we hunger for meaning and for opportunities of self-expression. The Fire Inside, in its bite-sized essays which can be read in five or ten minute increments, speaks to that hunger, and provides a source of the creative nourishment we all need.
Deep within us, we have a yearning, a passion, a desire to make and to do, to create something out of our hearts and imaginations that did not exist before. To bring forth something new upon the earth. It is innate in us, this intense wanting, and when we are engaged in the specific type of creativity we were meant to do—whether it be painting, writing, making music, or designing a new way to educate our children—we experience what Martha Graham calls “a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening.” It’s what puts the spark in our eyes, the skip in our steps. It is the fire inside.Do you know that fire? Sometimes it manifests itself as restlessness,a vague dissatisfaction, a feeling that there is something important you must do, you have to do, to be true to yourself. It is the little ache you feel when you read a story that is heartbreakingly true and think I want to do that, or when you see a painting that stuns you with its power, and your fingers itch to pick up a paintbrush. Maybe it isn’t exactly clear what is burning inside, what you want and are put on earth to do. Or perhaps you know in your bones that you must write poetry, you must dance or die, you must create gardens of incredible beauty, but maybe you’re afraid that if you try you will fall flat on your face. You doubt yourself and your abilities. This is the way we humans are, having an intense wanting on one hand, fear and doubt on the other. But let us accept as an essential truth that we are all creative, wildly creative, each and every one of us— that we have vast reserves of untapped talents and abilities—songs only we can write, sculptures waiting to be born from the unique spirit that is us; and when we accept that belief and act on it, oh, then! We wake each day with a new animation, a vibrancy and passion. We feel like children let out of a stuffy classroom into a blue-sky spring day, and we can’t wait to see what we can do with it.The fire inside is the “something” that fascinates you, intrigues you, so that you go to sleep and wake up thinking about it. You want to study it from all its interesting angles and make it central to your life, keep working at it, falling short in your aspirations at times, but trying and trying again. And if you are not currently involved with something that brings with it such zeal, if you’ve kept your fire tamped down, unable to act on your passion for whatever reason, know that it is still there—the beginning of days filled with intense purpose and meaning, waiting for you.The Highest KiteImagination is the highest kite that can fly.—Lauren Bacall, By Myself and Then Some The human brain is a remarkable thing. It keeps the body going, stores knowledge, analyzes, remembers, puts two and two together to make sense of the world, and somehow allows for the miracle of imagination. When we were children, we lived in worlds rich in imagination, allowing us to transform a blanket draped over a chair into a cave, the tree-filled ditch behind the house into a secret forest. We carried out endless adventures in the worlds we created, the synapses in our brains sparking with delight and excitement.But when we become adults and take on duty and responsibility, we don’t invite imagination out to play as much as we used to. The good news—especially for those wanting to live more creative lives—is that we can become just as involved in flights of fancy as we used to be, rediscovering the world in all its beauty, its design as well as its asymmetrical magnificence. Ask yourself: if you were a little seed in the ground waiting for spring to warm you and pull the green livingness of you up to the sun, what would that be like? If you were a baby robin in a blue egg in a nest, how would it be pecking your way into the world? Crazy questions, maybe, but ones that can stimulate us to bursts of creativity, and as Lauren Bacall suggests, that is a joyous way of living in this world.So, if you haven’t exercised the muscles of your imagination lately, why not start now? Not that you have to embark on a novel, necessarily, or begin work on the next Mona Lisa; you can begin simply and joyfully as children do. Look at pictures of art and imagine stepping inside the frames. Who would you talk to and what would you see? Or look outside your window and take note of the different elements there. Maybe you see a bird flying or tree branches swaying in the breeze, then imagine a conversation with that bird or that tree. It may come haltingly at first, in fits and starts, but when you let whimsy back into your life, the brain begins to work in new ways, mapping out new neural pathways. And like muscles gradually becoming stronger as you exercise, so does the imagination become livelier and more free-wheeling. You will find your life opening up, becoming richer as your mind discovers ideas for your next artistic project in the pattern of the night sky or the sound of the wind before a storm. Imagination can be the be-all and end-all for you; it can be everything.
Lucy Adkins earned her MFA from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and is a writer of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Her poetry and short fiction have appeared in many journals and anthologies, and her first poetry chapbook, One Life Shining, was published by Pudding House Press. She co-presents the Nebraska Humanities program “Diaries and Letters of Early Nebraska Settlers,” and is a frequent writing instructor for OLLI, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, and the Larksong Writers’ Workshops. Her book, Two-Toned Dress, was the winner of the 2019 Blue Light Press poetry chapbook contest.
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Becky Breed, a veteran educator, poet, and essayist, co-wrote and facilitated “Women at the Springs,” a Nebraska Humanities program empowering women to live more courageously, as well as “The Intergenerational Project” connecting elders and teens through stories to promote communication, writing, and use of the media. She has an Ed.D. in Education, and in addition to teaching at the university level, was the principal of a Gold Star School which was awarded recognition for significant improvements in reading, writing, and math. The students’ resiliency and drive to be the best they can be helped shape the fabric for several of the enclosed essays.
Together the two co-authored Writing in Community: Say Goodbye to Writer’s Block and Transform Your Life, which was awarded an “IPPY” in the Independent Publishers Book Awards. Writing in Community, the first book in their “Essential Writing and Creativity” series, along with the impact of Adkins’ and Breed’s many presentations and workshops led to their being named winners of the 2020 Lincoln, Nebraska Mayor’s Arts Award in Artistic Achievement in Literature.
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WRITING IN COMMUNITY: SAY GOODBYE TO WRITER’S BLOCK AND TRANSFORM YOUR LIFE