This is the third in our series of interviews with writers & artists. Our first two were great: An interview with Jackie Morris: illustrator… and An interview with Clark Strand: Haku Master.
For this interview, I’m really pleased that we’re joined by Lori Deschene. Lori writes for ‘tween magazines, but is probably most well known for the wonderful tinybuddha.com, whose tagline is simple wisdom for complex lives. Tinybuddha.com began life as a tweet stream in 2008 and quickly blossomed into an online phenomenon. In 2009 the website was launched.
Lori has a book coming out at the end of this year, with Corani Press. If you can’t wait for that, she’s got an ebook for sale, called Handbook for Peace and Happiness. You can keep up to date with the latest wisdom from Lori, and her guest writers, on her facebook page.
Lori says that she’s “not an expert on living wisely, but… someone facilitating conversations that affect our individual and collective peace and happiness”
Onto the questions!
1. What drives your creative work?
If I were to narrow it down to one thing, I’d say that I write to explore the many ways we can cause ourselves and each other less pain. It took me a long time to realize that I have immense power in letting go of things that don’t serve me and creating a fulfilling life.
With Tiny Buddha, I’ve aimed to create a place where we can all empower ourselves, individually and collectively, to be the people we want to be and create the kind of world we want to live in.
2. What would you say to yourself if you could go back in time and meet yourself at the beginning of your creative career?
You can be anyone you want to be and do whatever you want to do—as soon as you’re ready to start.
I have always been a writer. I remember writing a fake newspaper with my sister when I was just six years old (The headline: “Big Flud Strikes Revere!”) I won awards for my writing in high school, and attended college on a writing scholarship.
And then I graduated and hit a major mental roadblock. I didn’t have the slightest idea how to start a creative career and I was terrified of failing, so I didn’t try at all.
In my early 20s I started a private blog, but it wasn’t until I turned 26 that I seriously considered the possibility of writing for a living.
3. How do you keep creating when things get difficult?
Sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I simply give myself permission not to create and instead to create the conditions that allow other people to do it.
That’s what I love about Tiny Buddha: It’s a place where I can share my own struggles and lessons, but I also publish posts from lots of other people. Sometimes when I need a break from creating content, I focus on the larger picture—new features for the site, new partnerships, or new tools that will help readers.
In this way I am always creating, but I give myself permission to diversify exactly how I do that.
4. How does your creative work affect the rest of your life?
My creative work permeates everything in my life! Tiny Buddha is my greatest passion, and it bleeds into everything I do, especially since I work from home, on my own time.
I know that what I do creatively influences my overall sense of well-being. If I help people through Tiny Buddha, it’s not just through the act of running and writing for the site; it’s also because I am a better person for actively choosing to do what I love every day.
5. What is it like to send your work out into the world?
It’s different every day, as is everything in life. Sometimes it’s exciting, sometimes it’s terrifying, much of the time, it’s both.
6. What was the best advice anyone gave to you?
Remember that you’re stronger than you think.
7. What helps you to pay attention to the world?
I find that I always pay attention to the world, but sometimes it’s the kind of attention that only causes me pain.
There are days when all I notice is things that frustrate and bother me. It’s usually when I’m dwelling on the past, obsessing about the future, and judging people and conditions as bad or unfair. On those days I’m giving the world my full attention—it’s just filtered through fear.
On other days, I pay attention to the world, but instead I look for love, beauty, and possibilities. That’s not to say the world is all white as opposed to all black. I realize the glass is both half empty and half full. But I know that the quality of my attention dictates whether I see more of one than the other—and that ultimately affects what I choose to do.
When I find myself paying attention to the world in a way that causes me pain, I practice deep breathing, inhaling and exhaling while mentally repeating the words “let go.” I don’t always do this well; but when I let go of the fearful thoughts swarming around my brain suddenly my attention becomes a source of peace and happiness.
Thanks for taking the time to speak to us Lori,
Kaspa & Fiona