As part of my ongoing quest to explore what it means to live a creative life, I periodically invite kickass creatives to answer five questions about creativity. This week we’re starting something new. My interviewee turns the tables and asks you a question. (It’s a good one, and there’s a giveaway. Wait ’till you see!)
Deadlines, grocery stores, unreasonable amounts of love… and a BIG giveaway
I’m excited (and a little starstruck) to be interviewing Samantha Reynolds, aka, Bentlily. I first discovered Samantha in 2011, shortly after she’d pledged to write (and post) a poem a day. Her intent was to try to “be present and not miss the fleeting first year of her son’s life.” I read the poem for that day, and then the poems for all the days I’d missed, and then I signed up to get a poem a day in my inbox, because by that time I was a happy Bentlily addict. It amazes and inspires me how consistently Samantha “shows up,” every day producing poetry that is accessible, grounded, lyrical and soaring.
Her blog, www.bentlily.com, has sparked a movement of people around the world to slow down and savor their lives. When not racking up reams of poetry, she runs Echo Memoirs, a publishing company specializing in personal memoirs and company histories. She lives in Vancouver, BC, and is “a mom and wife to two of the loveliest men in the world.”
j: Life is demanding. What are your tricks for getting into a creative space?
Samantha: I’m a jelly mess of indecision unless I have a deadline. It’s why I write my daily poems right before bed. I need that imposed deadline of sleep to fasten me to my chair and charge my creativity into high gear. My only other trick is, if I’m feeling foggy, open the thesaurus and pick a word at random. I always find it’s like a magnet that magically draws an idea out of me.
j: What’s the weirdest thing that inspires you?
Samantha: Grocery shopping.
j: How do you deal with critics?
Samantha: Close my eyes, send them unreasonable amounts of love, and then restore my confidence by reading something over-the-top nice that somebody has said about my work.
j: What energizes you, solitude or engagement?
Samantha: Solitude, but in a public space (part of the appeal of grocery shopping). I get gobs of energy from going for a walk alone in a busy urban neighbourhood.
j: Fishing line, nail polish, sea shells and an endless supply of colored post-it notes: What will you make?
Samantha: I’m devastatingly un-crafty but if forced to make something for big prize money, I’d write a favourite word (like outlandish and blue) on each post-it note, paint the seashells with the nail polish, and use the fishing line to string the post-it notes and the coloured seashells into a giant hanging mobile.
Now here’s the really fun part: Samantha’s question for you.
Pick an object near you, or one you can see outside your window. Spend the next 3 minutes trying to notice as much as possible about that object. Really bore into it, get beyond the way you’ve heard that object described by other people, look for qualities that you might not expect, like how a pen can look lonely, or the way the sky reminds you of watery tea. Write a few of your observations down – as sentences or as a short poem.
Answer in the comments section. I seriously can’t wait to see what you come up with. I admit. You’ve all spoiled me. I have high expectations. In two weeks (on July 5th), I’ll send all your answers to Samantha and she will read them, pick one at random, and give the winner a limited edition copy of her book of poems.
(I’m going to do it. I can’t resist this prompt, but I promise. I’m not allowed to win. I bought the book the minute it went on sale earlier this year, though, so I can safely say that I’m hugely happy in advance for whoever wins.)
p.s. It’s okay to use the comments section to just say hello, or to ask Samantha where you can get one of her designer giant mobiles.
Samantha closed her eyes, focused her magic powers and picked Karin Corley as the winner of her book of poetry! Telling Karin she won and getting to be on the receiving end of her super excited “Bentlily is a poet-superhero” reaction was the highlight of my Friday, and that’s saying something because I had a really good Friday. Karin has a poetry blog herself, and you can find her on Twitter.