Each Creativity Case Study is an intimate look into a personal, creative world. These longitudinal conversations explore lowercase art -- the ways individuals create private meaning -- and the way lowercase art weaves threads through our lives.
This is the first conversation in the Creativity Case Study with Abby Kerr. I'll check in with her again a couple of times at 6 to 8 month intervals for follow-up conversations.
Download the full conversation to listen to at your leisure (mp3 format, run time 53:25), or continue reading for the spiffy-fied transcript (with links).
AVL: Hello, everyone! This is the first conversation in the lowercase art Creativity Case Studies. Our first guest for these case studies is Abby Kerr. Hi, Abby!
AK: Abby: Hey, Andrea! [Note: Abby's side of the conversation is shown in throughout the transcript with AK]
AVL: Abby Kerr is the founder and creative director of The Voice Bureau, a boutique agency dedicated to brand voice development and copywriting. I have some notes and talking points as part of my preparation, but I really want this to be more of a fluid conversation. Anything we're particularly enthusiastic about or anything we really want to follow, we're just going to do that if that's ok with you.
AK: Yeah, I definitely love that.
AVL: It's not often that we get to have these conversations that are more personally focused and less about the polished professional world. So, this is a big relief for me, and I hope it is for you as well.
AK: Yeah, me too. Being the creative director of a little branding agency, for me it's all about the polish (laughing), the presentation, and how it comes across. It is totally refreshing to get to talk about the other side of the spectrum.
AVL: Yeah, because really, we're all real, whole people, and that comes through in the branding and the polishing as well. One of the things I definitely want to talk about today in this whole concept of lowercase art is the very unpolished, messy, experimental stuff. Just briefly, the idea of lowercase art is different from what I would call uppercase art, or someone who does creative work for a living. If we all accept the notion that art is a dialogue, uppercase art is a dialogue that happens with an audience in mind. It's meant to be seen, viewed, or evaluated in whatever format. Lowercase art is really a personal dialogue. It's this thing that you have that's just for you. The only person who has to understand it or make sense of it is you. It can be very fragmented. I like to think that we all have our own form of creative shorthand, and that's what comes through in our lowercase art.
AK: Wow. I'm just thinking about the huge permission that it takes to create lowercase art.
AVL: You and I both do a lot of work online, so there's that polish we referred to before, making things professional and neat and tidy. I think one of the things I have discovered in talking to people about lowercase art, around that whole idea of permission, is that it's not frivolous to have this very personal, experimental form of art or expression that doesn't get seen. It's important enough to make time for it.
AK: It's so easy if you're somebody who does do uppercase art for a living or even something approaching uppercase art -- something that is creative and is imminently for pay -- in a way, you override your own messy, creative process in order to just put something out there that is polished and finished and acceptable, and in the format or the style that you become known for. I think it can actually inhibit that sense of really organic creativity, or unmapped creativity. I just think it's really important to be talking about this to see what's there.
AVL: I think there's a certain freedom, this complete liberation in lowercase art in that you don't have to compromise necessarily. It can be as wild and raw as you want your creative edge to be, so you don't have to justify it to anybody else. Whatever traditions or rules or whatever are out there, they really don't matter when it's that personal and private. Going back to the difference between creative work and creative play, and uppercase art and lowercase art, what percent of your professional time would you say is dedicated to creative work?
AK: Oh goodness. As opposed to creative play or as opposed to doing admin and things like that?
AVL: There's the creative work and then there's the execution, the task-oriented part of it that's not.
AVL: The making ideas come alive part.
AK: Yes, ok I would say probably 50/50, 50 percent creative work and the other 50 percent is the work that supports the creative work being able to get out there.
AVL: Ok. One of the things I'm really curious about because I notice this with myself and so it's part of "Am I the only one?" or do other people experience this too? -- the whole notion of creative seasons, where there's much more ideation. Are there seasons or periods of the year that just feel more momentous with a creative energy for you?
AK: Oh yes, absolutely. For me, it is Fall, like Autumn. That's the time I feel really tremendous creative momentum. It almost feels like being Christopher Columbus every September when the leaves start to turn colors, because it feels like discovering the new world again, every time. And then my creativity goes, I wouldn't say dormant because it's never exactly dormant, but think I struggle the most in the summer, the hot months. For me, I think it might have something to do with DNA makeup (laughing) or just my body or my blood just doesn't feel its best in the summer. In some ways I've thought I have reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder. (laughter) I notice that for me it's just much easier to get into this huge period of creation in the Autumn.
AVL: Maybe that's the Season of the Muse.
AK: It might be. Is that in literature somewhere or are you just musing?
AVL: I'm just musing. (laughter) I notice, for me, my intensely creative period is in late summer and when we get into winter, my muse curls up in a fetal position somewhere and says call me when it warms up.
AK: There's another way that I have mapped my creativity, and this will be really interesting I think for the women who are listening, but I can't believe I'm going to talk about this but I am, so...mapping your creativity and productivity to your monthly cycle. Another creative friend turned me on to the idea -- I had never really heard of it — thinking about moon cycles and what strengths of ours are at the forefront and what we most enjoy doing — and I found my way to a really neat book about it called The Optimized Woman, and it's by Miranda Gray. It really kind of blew open for me the different rhythms that I feel throughout the course of the month. I notice that at certain times of the month I would be able to (we're talking still in the realm of creative work, not creative play, and we need to get over there) I would be able to get so much done, as much as a normal 3 day work period, I would fit it into 1 day and still have all this humming, thrumming energy to spare, and then there are times where I just feel so lethargic that it's an effort even just to open the computer. Being able to notice that is mapped to what is happening inside me hormonally is been a huge gift for me, and it's given me so much grace for myself. That’s been a huge awakening for me in the past year. [9:57]
AVL: I definitely can relate to that, and I think we do have times where we want to be more external or more open, and there's times when we need to be more closed, times when we're more lethargic maybe. It's almost like a stimulus thing — like right now I'm open to stimulus or right now I'm not.
AVL: I'm really glad you brought this up because one of the things I wanted to talk about today, and when I say the word it's going to sound like we're talking about something else, but that’s regularity.
AK: Nice, ok. (laughter)
AVL: I want to bookmark that and we're going to come back to it because I think there is something there and it's another conversation about permission. We're definitely going to come back that. If we start sliding over from creative work into creative play, I want to start with identity. Do you identify as a creative person?
AVL: Awesome. (laughing)
AK: Yeah, I do. (laughing)
AVL: Because I do want to talk to people who do and people who don't. I naturally do, so I feel like, I know this. Would you say your creativity is personally compartmentalized as this special sanctuary that you can go to, or is it something integrated and just spills over into your whole life?
AK: For me, I think it's more the latter. I could treat it as the former. If I treated it as a special sanctuary I think that would feel really awesome. I would kind of like to move more toward that, having more regular artist dates with myself and putting the time in every week in a certain container just to show up and see what happens. I've actually never done that! Because my work is inherently creative and most of my friends are pretty deeply creative people, I feel that the creative pulse is kind of running through my whole life. For instance, it's not uncommon for me to be working on something for business and then quickly open a new doc and start quickly tapping out notes about a fiction character, like someone for a potential short story that just popped in my head. I feel like everything is connected,for me, in that way. It feels like a saturation of my world, to put it that way.
AVL: I like that you're so fluid about it. You can say, I'm just going to open this doc and start. I think with the focus on productivity and David Allen's Getting Things Done...
AVL: For me there is no book that's really not my life more than that book, it was not written for me — (laughter)
AK: I have not read it, but I've been intrigued by other people who swear by it.
AVL: I think not to resist when the muse comes up, or when inspiration strikes, not to resist it and say no, we have to focus on this thing -- if you silence the muse enough she'll stop showing up, I think.
AK: Yeah, absolutely. I think we have some control over training our muses. They're pretty persistent though.
AVL: They are.
AK: If they want to show you something, they're going to keep coming back but I don't want to reject her when she comes around. (laughter) I never really thought of it as fluid in that sense but I guess it certainly is. Like, riding in the car, I'm in the passenger seat, I'll whip out my iPhone, open the Notes function. Most of my creativity, not all of it but a lot of it, comes out through writing so that's my medium, so I'm writing down a turn of phrase I just heard in my head, always always always collecting bits that could be part of a bigger work.
AVL: How were you introduced to that, or how did you get started in that being your primary creative medium?
AK: Oh gosh, I wish I could remember the exact spark of it. I know that, honestly, I feel like words and storytelling, and creating fictive worlds, have been with me since I was verbal. I know I talked really early and talked a lot (laughter), so I've had an easy facility with language. I remember, maybe around, gosh, I don't know how old I was -- really, really little — pre-school, grabbing one of those little golden books off of the book case in my bedroom. I would write and draw my own stories in the front and back covers of the book because I just knew somehow that my stories were supposed to live inside a book. That’s where you put those things, that's the way that I felt. Tons and tons of reading and starting to write stories as early as first grade and all through elementary school, all through school, and pursued it more academically into college. It’s been with me all this time. Interestingly, even though fiction to me, writing fiction or even writing poetry, it feels like creative play, but there's a helluva lot of craft to it, too. But it's one thing in my life I have not tried to monetize, but doing it is its own reward, put it that way.
AVL: I am so glad you went there. That is so awesome! (laughter) One of the things I was noodling on recently...I've gone back and forth through various iterations of my creativity and balancing the whole right brain/left brain dominance and all that, and I think there's a difference for us between...there's a danger maybe...when we pursue something that's creative play or personally creative -- that form of energy and that magnetism that's naturally there -- when we try to turn it into work, the magic gets lost a little bit, and I think a lot of us have to learn a lesson between this is my personal creativity, and this is what I do for work, and it's ok that they're separate.
AK: Yes. (laughter) I was going to ask if you’ve gone through that? I want to hear more about that. Go ahead, if you don't mind.
AVL: Sure. My background initially was engineering, and that's what I went into. It's very formulaic and not all that liberating, really. I think for some people it is. For me it wasn't, because all of my engineering jobs were in factories. There’s very prescribed methods of work. There's processes, there's documentation, there's measurement and diagnosis, and about 10 years ago I quit my job to go to art school.
AVL: I thought, they're going to think I'm freakin’ nuts (laughter), and they didn't, and the fact that so many people were supportive of that, it almost made me wonder...how many people want to do something like that? how many people want to try that other side? So I went to art school for a while, and I went back to engineering, and I've gone back and forth between trying to decide between what actually helps me make a living and what feeds my soul, and understanding that those don't necessary have to be the same thing.
AK: Yes. Gotcha. I can relate to that. I'll give one more recent example. My business, how I earn a living, is through the copywriting and branding agency, but I learned even within that that some of the activities that I have to do to support that business, and I genuinely enjoy doing them, are things that I have also tried to put a price tag on and do for other people. I realized, oh no no, I don't actually really enjoy doing this for other people but I do enjoy doing it for myself. I took the price tag off of those things and continued to use them within my own work, but I switched the focus of what I offered so that what is for pay is not the thing that feels...I don't know how to say this... put it this way... what is for pay is stuff I love to do but it's not maybe the most intimate form of creative expression. Now I'm reserving that for just my own purposes, be it private, public, whatever, but that feels a lot more freeing for me. And it takes so much freakin' pressure off of creation. [20:24]
AVL: Yes. I think that line between...I like that you used the word intimacy, the intimate part there, because there's the line between what we need to reserve for ourselves and what we is ok to put out into the world, and it takes so much energy to put such an intimate facet of ourselves out into the world, and it's not necessarily sustainable, where other things that we love doing that are not so intimate, I can share this and it doesn't deplete me to do so.
AK: MmmHmmm. I think that even just like being creative people in a digital culture, it's almost like this command or this obligation that you must publish and share, and show your work, and I love that whole approach, too. But I think it can really be inhibiting and deflating for people. Personally, the way I see it for myself is I'm gonna do much more than I'm ever going to show, and that's a part of me being connected to who I am and who I'm becoming and who I want to be. The just for me stuff is what I'm interested in focus on these days.
AVL: So, speaking of these days, what are you really doing for your personal creativity right now? What are you experimenting with that you haven't really shared outside yourself?
AK: I am working on developing a fiction writing practice for myself, so taking the little rivulets of inspiration and writing that has flowed through my life just about every day forever and honoring them enough to give them more space in my life. For me, that looks like taking an online short story writing workshop that I can do at my own pace. It's a way to play with writing, very low pressure -- there's no workshop element to it or sharing, no critique. It's just experimenting with craft and seeing what is there. I'm working on that, and being really conscious to give myself more pauses in my day to see what kind of thing I feel like making. Like, do I want to sit down for 10 minutes and do some kind of a free write on a cool line that pops in my head? I love to cook, that's another form of my creativity (laughter), so preparing a really beautiful dish from a recipe, something I've never made before, I just love that. That's like the most tactile thing that I do is cooking, and it's great.
AVL: I can so relate to that (laughing).
AK: Yes, you and I have joked before that we're avocado friends. Do you remember that?
AVL: Yes. Absolutely. Always.
AK: We both love avocados (laughing).
AVL: I love that you are doing things like the short story course and finding ways to develop craft and also set yourself up for creative play. I think while lowercase art can be very rough and experimental, there can also be, when you stick with it and follow the muse or follow a creative urge for a while, this development of craft. Like, I’m going to try this, I'm going to add this layer, and I'm going to go deeper into this aspect of it. I love to hear when people are sticking with it enough to do that.
AK: Yeah, and I think that just comes naturally. Your own inspiration or your own spark of interest will lead you into whatever it is you want and what you need next. I will say this -- it's really only in the last year and a half or so, in the last 10 years let's say, only in the last year and a half that I've really give space to more creative play and I'm looking to bolster it so much more. For me, it was always about, it is this imminently for pay, is this a responsible way to spend my time, shouldn't I be using my creativity more in service to my business? (laughter) I realized, maybe a year and a have ago, if I was 97 years old, what would be thing I would really regret not having done at that point? It was having a finished manuscript done for something. For me, it feels like play to do that work. There's not going to be some fairy of creative play that comes down and bonks you on the head with a wand and gives you permission. We just have to give ourselves permission, no matter what, to clear the space and just let ourselves indulge.
AVL: Exploring fluidity vs. regularity, and having faith...
AK: Yes, yes. So on that whole notion of permission I want to go back to the regularity discussion. I think there's a temptation, when we re-embrace -- I think our creativity can ebb and flow and maybe it’s a muse season -- and I also think there are times in our lives, maybe following transitions or making sense of life transitions where our creativity taps us on the shoulder and says, hey, I can help you make sense of this. If creativity is about creating meaning, it's a natural way for us to do that. I've noticed that in my own life.
AVL: I think there's also this temptation when we re-embrace it to say, ok, I'm going to prioritize this, I'm going to be dedicated to my personal creativity so I'm going to do it every day for 15 minutes.
AK: Yes. (laughing)
AVL: And then we don't do it, and then we feel like shit, and it's like ok, I suck at being personally creative and this must not be that important to me. What does regularity, in terms of your personal creativity, really look like for you in the most natural sense?
AK: I love that question. gosh. The whole 15 minutes a day or whatever, I think that's the very reason why though I love Julia Cameron's message, I have not yet read The Artist's Way. I'm scared of what will happen I think when I read it. For me, regularity starts with following the impulse of desire, really, when I want to write something that is just for me or I want to play with fiction, or when I really want to feel like cooking and amazing dinner that night -- just freakin' letting myself do it, not judging it, not being like no, you wait. The time is now, my life is now, this story for whatever reason feels like it needs to start to be told right now. Even if that means I'm only writing for two minutes, that's something. So regularity for me is being oriented toward following the desire when it comes, even if it feels inconvenient, even on a day when I have three projects on deadline, giving myself the two minutes or the 10 minutes or whatever it is. I think for me it's almost daily that I'm doing something that's creative play. It's not every day, but almost. I think the key for me is to keep it super tiny.
AVL: Yes. Because even just a little bit goes a long way. I think when we indulge that impulse, when we follow it a little bit, we get a little bit farther. It's like, ok, I've taken this step so now I'm ready for the next step to appear.
AK: I think that it builds faith.
AVL: AVL: Ooh, yeah.
AK: I think that it builds faith in yourself as a creative person.
Yes, yes. I love how this is just naturally transitioning because there's thing that I'm so excited about and I've talked about it with a couple of people. It's scary. I don't know how familiar you are with Natalie Goldberg, who wrote Writing Down the Bones...
AK: I love her.
AVL: Yes, she’s wonderful.
AK: I’ve read everything.
AVL: (laughing) I'm going through writing down the bones, and I'm going through a couple of essays — I call them essays — at a time just for that motivation but one of the things that really struck me, and I think it was in the introduction to the book. She talks about how she does this free writing, and I think she does it every day but she's a writer so I can see that. She fills up these notebooks. I call it creative vomit, just pouring yourself out on the page, just letting whatever comes out, not editing, not restraining it in any way. She fills up these notebooks and then she throws them away. She doesn't go back to mine them later. When I first ready that, I thought, oh my gosh, are you serious? How could she do that? But there's the faith that more words will come, that more ideas will come, and that there will always be inspiration.
AK: Yes, I know! We are basically depthless wells, we're endless wells. I think we don't know that we are, we can't feel that we are until you start drawing from the well. And then it's like, dude, there's so much down there that I had no idea and it will just keep coming.
AVL: So what have you released? What have you let go of with the faith that there's more in the well?
AK: hh, god! Last week, actually, my iPhone malfunctioned and it was like a manufacturer's issue, nothing I did, but completely fried. I wasn't even allowed to sync it with iTunes so I couldn't back up any of my stuff and I hadn't been backing up. My Notes app was full with 9 to 12 months of daily fiction snippets, everything from some dialogue between characters to awesome band names that I would use in a story, a description of this house that's in my neighborhood that I walk past a lot. All of these precious details, and I lost it all. I lost it all. As soon as I knew the phone was fried I knew I would lose it all. I could have cried about it if I really wanted to. (laughter) I could have been upset at myself, but you know what, this is an act of faith because for the past 9 months to a year, I have been recording these things that feel super precious, daily. I probably had material for 25 different short stories and a novel in there. In one way, it's like, noooo, I'm losing my pile of gold! I can never get that back. I don't even know what's in there. But on the other hand, it will come back to me another way, even if it's not the exact same character or the exact same line or detail. It will come back. It came from somewhere. I don't believe that creativity is "use it or lose it." We don't just get one chance and then it's blown. I think just having known that this had come forth out of me, it will come back. It will replenish itself, somehow.
AVL: One of the things I was going to ask you was about your swipe file, what do you collect. And to lose that. Hmm.
AK: Yeah. that's a lesson for me in backing up, (laughter) that's something I'm not very good at, admittedly.
AVL: But, you know, it is the faith. I think that is such a beautiful way to talk about it. I think that's really going to stick with me for a while, you know, faith applied to creativity.
AK: I never really articulated it that way to myself, either, so I'm going to be thinking about that as well.
AVL: So if we rewind just a little bit and go back in time, one of the things that I know about you is that you taught high school english for four years. In the research for our conversation today, I read that one of the things you loved was creating a culture within your classrooms. Is there a word that describes how you wanted your students to feel, or something that captures the experience you wanted them to have?
AK: Hmmm. (sighing)
AVL: Or a phrase. (laughing)
AK: Gosh. That's an awesome question. I think I wanted them to feel important, and like their presence there mattered, and their ideas mattered. And interestingly, even though the focus of the classes I taught was not creative writing, it was more American literature, British literature, whatever, I always wove creative elements into it. I think for anyone who is coming to literature or just learning in general any subject, it's really important to activate the creative essence within yourself around that topic. I think that helps you reinforce what you're learning and also just understand it more. I think just letting my students know that they are important and that their ideas are important.
AVL: How has that carried over into, and because your creative life is integrated into your professional life, I’ll just say how has that carried over into the work you're doing, and by doing that, how has that carried over into your creativity now?
AK: One thing that I will say about my approach to brand development with clients is that everything matters, everything is really important, every word on the page, every design detail that your web designer puts in place. In a way that can make somebody feel really self-conscious I think, actually, like oh my lord, I can't even tweet without worrying about my brand voice or whatever. (laughter) That is not the desired impact of all of this. I love working with clients who really desire to be intentional and thoughtful about the way that they approach how they're sharing what their work is. and that's why i think that every brand that we help people craft is super tailored to them and it's never just about, ok this template works, have you found the new so-and-so, you're going to be the so-and-so of this industry instead. Never, never that. It's always about finding the unique patterning and those nuances and really being respectful of that and what wants to come forth in the brand conversation and figuring out how to portray that on a flat screen. Wow, I never really recognized that particular through-thread but it sure is there.
AVL: (laughing) And I think that a lot of the clients that you work with, just from your nature and the type of people that you attract, also have that creative integration. This also helps them respect that part of their being, their creative life as well. It's interesting how it all connects up for some people, and then I imagine for some people it doesn't and that must be a really interesting conversation, too. (laughter) I want to change just a little bit and talk about why I'm even talking to you today.
AVL: I have read your professional writing for a while and I have been a client and I have been on the other side from your wonderful, wonderful work. And then last summer I was doing a mystery mail art project that had stories and art, and you wrote a poem for that project. It was that poem where I knew I had to talk to you from a creative experience. One of the things I wanted to do with every guest that I have in the case studies is to share an excerpt or something from their personal creativity, so I wanted to share a little bit from this poem that, for me, just had this beautiful lush hunger. It was just gorgeous imagery.
AVL: So your poem was called St. Valentine's Island, and my favorite part are these couple of lines:
Into the plummy waters I go, gathering fool's gold, rosy anemones, and flossy hair of sirens.
Into the depths of eleven o'clock, black like gorgeous despair. I sweep a backward trail to lie in wait for you.
I just love that so much, and I told you before we started that evoked this whole Shakespearean Ophelia notion for me, and it makes me want to get out my paints and try and paint it even though I don't have the skill to do that. (laughing)
AK: Mmm, wow. That poem for me was very visual, and the visual...for me it had kind of a like a dreamlike quality to writing it, and I knew the way that I showed different things in the poem had to be with these strange, almost magically realistic visuals. That was kind of the feeling that I was working from.
AVL: You wrote this poem within the year and half where you said you had really returned to re-embracing creativity for yourself. My personal art for me has consistently been about discovery, so what have you discovered in the past year, year and half, through your personal art, whether that's identity wise or life-wise, or whatever?
AK: I've discovered that my creative intelligence grows with me, and I don't know why that should come as a surprise but it did. For instance, I laid down my fiction for many years to focus on being an entrepreneur, and it was kind of dormant or in the little corners of my life. When I picked it back up in my last year and a half, I expected to find myself being the same writer that I was 10 years ago, same voice, same perspective on the world, etc, same type of images that I'm interested in, and I found through the play that I've been doing that my writing has changed. It's totally me but it's me now, 10 years later, and it’s like, whoa, I had no idea that it was such a morphing thing.
AVL: Yeah. I think it adds, or it furthers the idea, that this personal creativity or creative play really is that internal personal dialogue and there's something that happens when we express it and see it expressed, and it's like oh, that's what's been happening and that's been my experience.
AK: Yes. It's so easy, I think, to shock yourself on the page or shock yourself at your canvas or wherever you're doing your thing. That's the fun thing about creative play for me -- never really knowing what it's going to look like, even if I bring an intention with me, it's interesting to see where my subconscious takes it.
AVL: Yes. So, work, inherently is very cognitive, whatever your work is. I don't care even if you do creative work for a living, there's a very cognitive aspect to it, you're always keep that thinking frame of reference, and art, like fundamental art, this personal, more raw creativity, is emotional. Feeling is faster than thinking so I think there are connections that happen that we're not necessarily aware of until we see them. And that was really just a tangent I had go off on right there. (laughing)
AK: No, I'm glad you did, I just kind of taking it in. This conversation is making me want to write, (laughter) which is a really good thing.
AVL: I like that, yes! That is one of the points of these creative case studies is to underscore the fact that there's nothing frivolous or unimportant about following that urge, about indulging the urge to play or create, even if it's just for yourself, and even if it's just this fragment that bookmarks something for a later time.
AVL: One of the things I do, I teach these Art Improv workshops that are really about hands-on creativity and really letting people pour out some creative vomit in a structured way (laughter) and experience what it’s like to just let go. I love watching that happen. Natalie Goldberg kind of refers to that in Writing Down the Bones - how she can watch writers in workshops, and she can tell from their posture when they’ve given themselves over to the words, and I can see that in the workshops.
AVL: One of the things I do at the end of every workshop is I that I have my participants create a Creative Promise. If you had to write yourself a mantra, or a reminder for your current relationship with lowercase art, what would that be?
AK: It would be, “I will watch my desire.”
AK: Yeah, that feels like the right thing today.
AVL: I like that. I love the awareness that’s built into that, the whole noticing. Yes. I will watch my desire.
AK: Yeah, and I notice I didn’t even want to promise myself, “I will follow my desire.” (laughing) It was, “ I will watch it.” I will not just be aware that it’s around and push it off into a back corner while I stay focused on whatever else seems important, but I will actually watch it and see what it does.
AVL: Hmmm, yeah. There’s also that permission to show up and see it. I think sometimes when it feels raw and a little uncertain, whenever we follow that or whenever we watch it, or follow that desire, we’re exploring our uncertainty just a little bit. It takes a bit of courage, I think, just to be willing to show up and see it, and realize this is wild.
AK: It really does. Just allowing it to be in the room, I think, while I’m doing something else, that’s a really good start. For years, you can keep something at bay, but when you just let it in the room, you just become better acquainted with it and before you know it, it’s your friend again. [47:15]
AVL: And the faith to have it in the room. It’s like it’s ok for it to be here, and, yeah. So, we’re getting close to the end and there’s two things here I want to try I also do in Art Improv as part of the introductions.
AVL: At the beginning of our improv, I ask participants to introduce themselves with a simile, and you can correct me if I don’t get this right because I have a tendency to get it wrong, where you would say, “I’m Andrea, and I am like a disco ball.” I think that’s a simile.
AK: Oh yeah.
AVL: So if you were to say, I am Abby and I am like ‘blank,’ what would that be?
AK: Hmmm. Let’s see here. I am Abby and I am like a really rich-looking leather couch (laughing), overlooking a city street.
AVL: Aw! Watching your desire. (laughter)
AK: Yeah, probably.
AVL: And then I like to change it up and take the distance out of it, because there is a distance when you say I am like something, so, say, “I am Abby and I am…”
AK: So in this case, I am Abby and I am...so it would be the same thing?
AVL: No, it could be different.
AK: Oh, ok. Let me try it on and see how it feels. I am Abby and I am a rich leather couch overlooking a city street. Huh. Whoa. That would just be a fun writing prompt to start with, too.
AVL: Yeah! I love it as a way to expand, mix things a little bit, to take ourselves out of our traditional boundaries.
AK: Mmmhmmm. Yeah, it’s weird, it feels weird in an interesting way, to associate yourself that closely with something else, but I think it also speaks a lot about how we see ourselves or how we want to see ourselves, yeah. I’d definitely like to dive into that one for myself for a little bit.
AVL: I think it’s part of our perception, our understanding of whatever’s going on at the moment, and it could be based on breakfast that we had 10 minutes ago or whatever. It can change and be fluid throughout the day, but as a check in once in a while to say, ok, I am like this or I am this.It has been so wonderful having this conversation with you. Is there anything you’d like to bring up or anything else you’d like to say while we’re talking about creative play?
AK: I would like to say thank you for having me in this conversation, and also thank you for doing this series because I just think it’s really important, and it’s something that people who identify as creatives and people who don’t identify as creatives really need. I think there’s a hunger right now in the culture for a return to creativity, and a return to play. There certainly is in me, and I see it and hear it in the people I know as well, so thanks for doing this. I’ll definitely be watching my own desires (laughter) because of this conversation today.
AVL: Yeah, and this is a longitudinal case study, so that means 6 or 8 months down the road, we’re going to come back and revisit some of the topics and see what’s going on then and trace that through. We’ll do that a couple of times. I don’t the time to fly by but I am so anticipating what those future conversations are going to be like.
AK: Gosh, me, too. I can’t wait to listen in.
AVL: (laughing) Is there anything you’re working on, whether through The Voice Bureau or anything that’s more external that you want people to know about?
AK: I’m always working on stuff around Voice Values, which is the methodology I developed for helping businesses understand their brand voice. In this coming year, at the time we’re recording, end of 2014, beginning of 2015, I’m going to be working on probably a course to help people understand their brand voice and voice values more intimately. That’s the major external project. Internal projects, I have a feeling might be more external but the time we talk again.
AVL: Ah! I can’t wait to hear about them.
AK: (laughing) Yes, thanks, Andrea.
AVL: Thank you!