As part of my ongoing quest to explore what it means to live a creative life, I periodically corner unsuspecting (but very kickass) creatives (writers, musicians, artists, photographers) and
browbeat beg invite them to answer five questions about creativity. The questions are always the same (except for the last one, where my list of building materials varies). The answers, of course, are different every time (and fun and funny and insightful and honest).
Singing, spying and the best revenge
I can’t remember how I stumbled onto this week’s victim, Georgia-based singer, songwriter, poet, creative coach Juliana Finch, but I do know that from the moment I heard her sing “Glass Heart,” I was hooked. (I so loved that song, I used it for the Love Manifesto video.)
Juliana has been featured at the Nashville Pride Festival; the Bele Chere Festival in Asheville, North Carolina; Ladyfest South; The Atlantis Music Conference; and was selected for the prestigious Falcon Ridge Folk Festival’s Emerging Artist Showcase in 2008. She’s played songwriter showcases at such iconic venues as Eddie’s Attic in Atlanta, the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, and been featured several years in a row at 99x’s Unplugged In The Park Concert Series.
(Note: She crooned all her answers to me, because she is exactly that awesome.) ~~~~~
j: Life is demanding. What are your tricks for getting into a creative space?
Juliana: I have to have a routine. It took a really long time for me to accept that, because I like to think of myself as this free spirit, can’t-tie-me-down artist. The idea of a set way to do things felt somehow constraining for awhile. I finally realized that the only way for me to be productive is to show up every day, try to fit my life around this task instead of wandering around aimlessly waiting for inspiration to strike.
So now, I get up every day, meditate for a little while, make a big pot of coffee and write for a couple of hours. I like to do it first thing in the morning so that the rest of my day doesn’t get in the way of it. Really, the rest of my day doesn’t begin until that part of my life is taken care of. I’m still a free spirit, but I get a lot more writing done now.
j: What’s the weirdest thing that inspires you?
Juliana: Eavesdropping. I used to be embarassed to admit this, but I eavesdrop as often as possible. People are constantly telling incredible stories, or speaking in an interesting way (dialects, idioms, etc.) and I love to listen to that, whether I’m the intended audience or not. I don’t go out of my way to do it – there’s no Harriet The Spy stuff going on – but if you’re on a first date at a restaurant and I’m the next table over, chances are I can hear you. I’ve gotten some really great ideas for songs that way. There are stories everywhere.
j: How do you deal with critics?
Juliana: Constructive criticism has its place. If the source is trusted, informed, and compassionate, criticism can be a great ally in making an OK work a great one. That said, most critics don’t fall into that category. My mom always said “Consider The Source.” Where is the criticism coming from? What’s the motivation behind it? If they’re doing it to resolve some issue of their own, that is not my “stuff” to deal with. It still stings, of course, and for that I tend to run to a piece of dark chocolate and a bubble bath. But once I recover from the initial hurt, when I’m rejected or criticized, I use that as fuel to keep going and keep trying. The best revenge is never quitting.
j: What energizes you, solitude or engagement?
Juliana: On the Meyers-Briggs scale I get an “X” in the Extravert/Introvert category. I absolutely need both, often in equal measure. I love to be out in the world, gathering data if you will. I take in lots of art, music, performances, talk to lots of people, get inspired by my creative friends… but then I take that all home, and it doesn’t really become something until it’s had time to gestate. That gestation period requires solitude and reflection. So both are really necessary for me to function, and I love the sense of balance I feel when I’m able to honor both sides of my personality.
j: Scrap metal, beach glass, a hanger, and super glue: What will you make?
Juliana: I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling a pretty epic disco ball coming on. Dance, anyone?