Mary Richert – in her first Internet video ever – talks about some of her favourite books. In these pages she finds a lot of encouragement and inspiration. I really want to emphasise three points Mary makes in this video.
Everybody struggles. This was a fact that I needed to be reminded of today. [I saw a “Quitting smoking is hard” ad earlier and a part of me scoffed and said, “Really? You should try writing a novel some time, buddy!”] It can really help your perspective to realise that even the people you admire have struggled. It really helps me to come back to John A. Keel talking about the Blank Page and to realise even Annie Lennox has moments of great doubt.
If you want to be creative you have to have input. Quite removed from the romantic notion of the artist as an aloof loner, the truth is creativity is enriched by collecting experiences and ideas. Julia Cameron talks in terms of filling the artist’s well. Australia playwright Michael Gow suggested that when you use your imagination you literally empty your mind. This is a resource that can be depleted. As an artist you need to acknowledge that and work to rectify it.
Sometimes it’s hard to see the big picture. Mary’s work is predominantly in the field of creative non-fiction. Sometimes it is hard to make sense of history while it is happening, especially if it is happening to you. This was something I found working on a memoir project. I was always secretly waiting for a point in my personal life that would lend itself to a satisfactory conclusion for the work. What I concluded was that it was difficult to understand the moment you’re having while you’re having it.
I want to take this opportunity to really applaud Mary on her first video. I’ve been making online videos for several years now and I think a lot of people sit back and think that it is such an easy thing to do. I have very distinct memories early on of being completely unnerved by the prospect and just staring into the lens of the camera, hoping desperately for something intelligent to come from my mouth. I hope she makes more! It is a wonderful extension to the great work she does on her blog.