Let’s Talk with Tina Whittle

Creativity
By Tina Whittle

One of the most common questions I get asked during interviews is when I started being a writer. It’s also one of the hardest questions to answer. Technically, I’ve been a writer as long as I’ve been writing. But I didn’t know I was a writer – didn’t really understand what that meant – until tenth grade journalism class, when my teacher read a faux advice column I’d written aloud to the class and one girl laughed so hard she started ugly crying.

Before then, I knew that words were powerful. But at that moment I realized they were powerful in my hands, as a tool I could wield uniquely well. It felt like being in one of those movies where the Chosen One picks up this ordinary sword and it glows golden and starts making a humming sound and everybody around them takes a step back and goes, whoa.

Words are my personal Jedi light saber. But they are certainly not the only way to be creative in this universe. Some people connect to music; others to painting. Others dance, and other play baseball. People make pottery and movies and code. They drive race cars and fold origami and smoke briskets and put on plays and piece quilts and grow roses and build shelves and and and…

Maybe you know what your creative genius is. Maybe you’re still searching. I hope at least you’re NOT one of those people who says “I’m not creative” or thinks that creativity is a virtue or special talent of some kind. Because creativity is already a part of you as much as your breath and your heartbeat. It is your birthright, the thing your brain was made to do.

As spring moves into summer, I hope you get some time to enjoy whatever warms your creative soul. I’ll be writing, of course, but also taking up my drawing lessons again. Very badly but enthusiastically.

What will you be doing for fun this summer?

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Comments

  1. I’ll be spending another week on the cattle ranch. (Shhh…. don’t tell anyone. It’s for “research” so I’m not going to have any fun. Not one little bit.)

  2. Jim, that train trip sounds wonderfully exciting. And Maggie, letters have sadly — or not — been replaced by emails and text messages.

  3. I agree that we all have a creative gift. We only need to find it and acknowledge that part of our being. As for the summer, I will be visiting Key West for the Mystery Fest there, Orlando for the RWA conference, and then Marco Island for some much needed R & R. In between these trips, I’d better get some work done and increase my exercise level. Not too much, eh?

  4. maggietoussaint says:

    I love how you describe your awakening to the power of words. I’m not sure I had such an acute personal realization, except maybe in letter writing. Back in the day, letters were quite the thing. I became pen pals with my next door neighbor’s cousin and we often exchanged letters. When my parents divorced and we moved to another town, my favorite letters were from my Dad. He would write about how aggravated he was with the squirrels for getting in his pear trees. According to Daddy, they’d pick a pear, eat one bite, throw it on the ground, then grab another pear. He said there were plenty of pairs for people and squirrels and they’d crossed the line by being wasteful. The rest of the story didn’t end well for the squirrels, but I poured over every word he wrote, savoring those letters and feeling that broken connection to family and land tentatively patched. It brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it. So I would write back to my father and my friends, long letters pouring my heart out about this, that, and the other, and people kept writing me back. From that experience, it was a snap to write essays and papers and I soon turned to writing to fix the woes of the world…

    • tinawhittle says:

      There is a reason the epistolary tradition — letters are one of the most powerful expressions we have of how words can connect two people.Thank you for sharing yours.

  5. My major planned fun thing this summer is taking one of our granddaughters on a train trip starting at Winnipeg with stops at Jasper National Park, Vancouver, Seattle, & Glacier National Park. Should be a great three weeks.

    • tinawhittle says:

      Wow! I am so envious of your train ride — I love trains, and you’re covering territory I’ve always wanted to explore. Have fun!

  6. Great post, Tina.