Now for Addie Boswell, an extraordinarily gifted woman, whose creativity is too large to confine to the written page. Yes, she writes children’s books, and that’s how I’ve come to know her. But she is likely better known as a muralist.
“My business is telling stories,” she says on her website. “I believe in the power of story, the imagination of children, and the necessity of duct tape.” Addie invites us to “write, draw, color, paint, cut, paste, build, dance, stomp or otherwise express yourself, because creativity can change the world.”
With this in mind, I asked Addie:
How does writing fit with the rest of your life? I think the greatest thing about being a writer is you get to chase ideas around. So whatever catches your attention on a given day — your daughter picking dandelions, the conversation you overhear in the park, a strange dream, a book that makes you cry — can be filed and used in your stories. In that way, writing and life are forever entwined and supporting each other. Of course, to do the actual writing, you often have to fight off the rest of our your life — your kids and family, the house that needs cleaned, and the million other jobs you could be doing.
What’s the hardest part about writing? I find the publishing “industry” the most frustrating. The process of writing and editing is difficult and time-consuming, but you always know that you’re ultimately in charge. As soon as you send your work out to agents and editors, however, you don’t have much idea when or if you’ll ever hear back, when or if your work will ever see the light of day. And the sheer amount of rejection can get to you after awhile. I find its best for me if I send my work out, wipe it from my mind, and move on to another project. Then I’m pleasantly surprised when I get responses.
If you could change one aspect of the publishing business, what would it be? See above! I would make it somehow more transparent. Could our manuscripts be automatically tracked? Could we get a quick Amazon-type review on our proposals? Could someone invent an agent speed-dating service?!
What is the relationship between creativity and craft in your writing process? The writing process has distinct stages, and the first — the idea stage– has always been my favorite. Probably because I give my creativity free reign. This is when I’m researching (which can mean walking in the woods and thinking), writing the first draft, making lists and plots and character sketches, and just thinking about my story all the time. It feels kind of like falling in love. The next stage — revising and critique and plot structure and character development — relies more on craft. This stage takes a lot of time and practice. This is the marriage, I guess, in my metaphor. It takes compromise and perseverance, but is incredibly rewarding to watch your story grow better. And then there’s the third stage — when you are marketing the book and signing contracts and all the little details to get it out into the world. Perhaps this is like sending your kids off to school. Kind of bittersweet, but then, look at all the time you have now! Time for the next idea.