Interview with Lisa Baldwin: Curious monkey. Prolific ponderer. Kindness enthusiast. Writer of short things.

Fiona writes: I developed a girl-crush on Lisa through her word-art. Her writing is short & juicy & punchy. And clever. And cool. I wish I wrote like her. Do pop over to her lovely space, Zen at Play & you’ll see what I mean.

And so it feels very good to be welcoming her to our little space here today. Without further ado…

Welcome! What drives your creative work?
I’m driven by curiosity and delight, love and wonder, and a deep pull towards kindness. Much of my work begins as notes to self – the things I write about are things I’d forgotten, and then remembered again. When I remember, I share those rememberings, because I imagine that other people might have forgotten as well.

What would you say to yourself if you could go back in time and meet yourself at the beginning of your creative career?
Try stuff! Begin! Play! There have been many things that never made it out into the world because there’s always a little something more they could be. And there are many more things that took much longer than they needed to because my grip on them was too tight. If I were starting over, I’d invite failure sooner. Fortunately, we get to start over all the time, and as often as we need to.

How do you keep creating when things get difficult?
I think we’re always creating, even when it seems like we’re not. Maybe we haven’t published lately, or produced anything grand, but there are always little hints of our creativity if we look for them. Noting the small creative acts – the pleasing arrangement of peas on your plate, or a sweet turn of phrase popping up in a phone chat – takes the pressure off. It means that we’re never starting from a standstill, and that creating more just means gathering momentum.

How does your creative work affect the rest of your life?
The less space I imagine between my creative work and everything else, the better. My life feeds my work, my work feeds my life. My best days are the ones in which I consciously craft an artist’s day, not in the sense of “an artist should do this”, but in a way that invites curious experiences or nourishing input. On those days, whether I make anything or not, I’m filling the creative well.

What is it like to send your work out into the world?
I used to be an expert at something, and I wrote accordingly – I did my best to fit into the shapes I saw other people making. When I worked that way, it never felt risky or challenging – I knew I could do what was needed, and I didn’t wonder how people would respond to it. My work was safe.

As I slowly let go of being an expert, I started writing in new ways. There was no shape to copy, and nothing to measure against. What if people don’t get it? What if they think it’s too short, too wiggly, too odd?

Sending out that kind of work is fun and exhilarating. If there’s no gasp of uh-oh when I publish something, I’ve probably chickened out somewhere in the making.

What was the best advice anyone gave to you?
“Try stuff! Begin! Play!” — me, in this interview. It’s quite possible that other people have said that too. Like kindergarten teachers, for example, or maybe Goethe.

What helps you to pay attention to the world?
Spaciousness helps. Simplicity, too. If I cram my days, I stop noticing – I go into pinball mode, and ricochet through my days without noticing a thing. I aim to keep plenty of open space around whatever it is I need to do, and keep the things I need to do to a minimum. Sometimes I do well at that, many times not so much. It’s an ongoing adventure.

Bio: Lisa Baldwin. Wandering ponderer, kindness enthusiast, writer of short things. Likes train rides and orangutans. Sends love notes of encouragement to artists and other tender beings via Zen at Play

Comments & replies

5 thoughts on “Interview with Lisa Baldwin: Curious monkey. Prolific ponderer. Kindness enthusiast. Writer of short things.

  1. Elizabeth- Letters from a Small State

    Thanks Fiona for sharing Lisa with more of the world! She’s fantastic… I have to admit: a focus on kindness is an honorable goal and one that sounds easy but isn’t. Lisa, you do well and make look easy some very beautiful and complicated things! Thank you!

  2. Carolyn

    LOved this interview and the advice given. Looking forward to reading Fiona’s work. I love her take on the creative process and her wonderful attitude toward the creative life and how to get there!
    Thanks Lisa for sharing Fiona with us!

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