Category Archives: Writing

On worker bees

This weekend marks my one year anniversary of Abu Dhabi life! It went by far too quickly and my writing discipline definitely didn’t win out during my culture shock adjustment period. Goals: re-examined. New bars set. Why am I here if not to tell the story?

Here are a few things I learned this past year:

Expat life seems to operate on a circuit. People who choose to be expats move between a few hundred cities around the world, constantly gathering information from others about where they’ve lived, how they liked it, and how they learned to navigate. The UAE is just one stop on the road – many have lived in more than one place other than their home country and will move on to the next when “It’s Time.” Everything feels temporary when you’re an expat, which can be pretty unsettling.

Being a worker bee: Expat communities function on a sort of hierarchy that has a lot to with one’s chosen profession. Newsflash: There are a lot more English teachers than there are other kinds of professional expats, so we are pretty much sent to the back of the line when it comes to social networking. Am I here doing something interesting? Yes. I’m teaching English. Is that remotely impressive to anyone who is here doing business in any other industry? Not really. They’ve already met a few dozen of women just like me – to the extent that I’m a walking stereotype. That bends my precious little nose out of shape. I need to step up my game and do interesting things so I can talk about something other than work.

Letting the light shine through my thick skull: it was, at first, disorienting living in a place where the taxi drivers know more about world politics than I do. That has motivated me to really step up my game and get wise about all things not-USA. Americans – the ones who don’t travel much, anyway – tend live in an “America is the center of the universe” kind of bubble and have very little idea about . . . EVERYTHING . . . that is going on outside our borders. International news is not a two-page spread, and I have taken to reading as much as I can to catch up. I have also learned: There is no catching up. And: It’s not good to assume that someone wants to give me a history lesson. And: Being seen as ignorant is embarrassing. And: Oh, I hate admitting how selfish and myopic we Americans can be but DAYUM you guys. Read more international news. There’s all kinds of stuff going on out there.

Asking questions: Expats travel a lot, so my conversation starter tends to be: Where have you been? What did you love about it? They also love to brag about having traveled. I would brag more about where I’ve traveled, but I haven’t been doing this long enough to have much to brag about. My default setting is Wide Eyed Wonder, Lots of Questions, and Trying Not To Be Offended When People Scoff At My Inexperience Even Though I Am a Grown-Ass Woman Who At Least Bothered To Ask You A Polite Question. In other words, I’m totally asking for it. *sigh* Still learnin.

I could do without the scoffing. See previous comment about being sent to the back of the line. I’m not over the idea that my place in the social hierarchy is so modest. It’s kinda like: Say there is a big zoo with all kinds of fancy, exotic, impressive animals: Zebras, lions, giraffes, camels!, elephants, and all that. These are all animals that everyone will come to the zoo to see, to take pictures of, to draw, and to buy in the form of plush toys that will be noozled and covered with yogurt from the face of a two year old in the back seat of the car on the way home. In my experience, the social dynamic is such that many expats see themselves as an impressive, fancy, majestic, photo-and-plush-toy-worthy beast — and they see the English teachers as the prairie dogs: critters thrown into a big empty space no one else wants, digging little holes and popping up their heads every once and awhile, trying to figure out what’s going on in the Rest of the World.

But then – that’s just my surface impression, and I’ve barely scratched past it. And if I have a modest, worker bee, prairie dog kind of life: I’m still pretty happy with it. I look forward to a year of more writing and networking and making new friends. There are lots of non-scoffers out there, I just haven’t met them yet.

The Next Big Thing: Elizabeth Fletcher Guest Blogs

Thank you to Alison Morse for inviting me to participate in The Next Big Thing. Thanks also to Michele Campbell for loaning me her blog. If string theory is right and there are eleven or more parallel universes, she’s definitely living in one reality that I want: a free-spirited woman making her way in another part of the world. I can’t wait to see what creative work her adventures inspire.

I haven’t had luck finding a second writer to participate [Michele, sure you’re not working on anything?!] (OK, I’ll post something here this summer! -M), but I am thrilled that Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew accepted this mission.

Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew writes, loves, teaches and urban homesteads in South Minneapolis. When she’s not chasing her gregarious four-year-old daughter around the neighborhood or dancing with her partner Emily, she’s doing her best to support the spiritual life of writers. Her books are Swinging on the Garden Gate: A Spiritual Memoir (Skinner House Books), Writing the Sacred Journey: The Art and Practice of Spiritual Memoir (Skinner House Books), and On the Threshold: Home, Hardwood and Holiness (Westview Press). You can connect with Elizabeth at www.spiritualmemoir.com and www.elizabethjarrettandrew.com. You can find Elizabeth’s contribution to The Next Big Thing at http://www.spiritualmemoir.com/heart-and-craft/.

What is your working title of your project?

The title is Heartland, and my working subtitle is: An Unlikely Story of Marriage, Magic and the Maya.

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Where did the idea come from for the project?

I had been working on a collection of short stories set in Guatemala for two years. Then soon after I returned from my last long trip in Guatemala, I was in shamanic journeyspace. While in that altered consciousness, I was told to start writing a memoir about my physical and spiritual travels and I was given the title of Heartland.

I felt stunned when I came out of journeyspace. First of all, I rarely if ever received “thou shalt” commandments in my journeys. Second, I had always seen myself as a fiction writer and I valued the privacy that fiction offered. It took me some time to loosen my grip on that identity. After a month of avoidance, I shelved the short stories and began working on Heartland. I came to see that many of my real-life experiences in Guatemala were remarkable…definitely stranger than fiction.

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What genre does your book/project fall under?

I describe it as part travelogue, part spiritual memoir.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Hmm. It’s much easier to think of actors to play characters in my fiction than it is to contemplate stand-ins for real-life people, but I’ll give this thought experiment a go. When I think of people to play my persona, I have to consider age since it factors into the issues I’m facing in the book. I also have to find someone who doesn’t take herself too seriously. We don’t share many physical characteristics, but Jennifer Garner seems like someone who could pull off serious and silly, as well as anxious and exuberant, really well. I’d have to pick someone who can play a kind but skeptical foil to Jennifer Garner. My husband is a Star Wars fan, so I think he’d be pleased with me casting Ewan MacGregor.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

A thirtysomething woman juggles life between Minnesota and Guatemala during a five-year period, blurring the boundaries of reality and testing the bonds of her marriage, as she searches for her home in the world.

Will your project be self-published or represented by an agency?

I’m at least one deep revision away from sending it out, but I hope to find an agent to represent it.

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How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

To be determined. I started writing Heartland in late 2010, and I’m edging closer to the complete draft. As an aside, I wrote the last page months ago but I have yet to write the first chapter. My goal is to have the draft finished by the end of 2013.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I cringe when I use this book as an example because it was such a raging phenomenon, and I have no delusions of grandeur that I would receive an iota of that success, but Heartland shares similarities with Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love. Other influences include Traveling Souls: Contemporary Pilgrimage Stories by various authors, Hope Edelman’s The Possibility of Everything, Peter Mathiessen’s The Snow Leopard, and Robert A Johnson’s Balancing Heaven and Earth.

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Who or what inspired you to write this book?

The duende of Guatemala inspired me to write this book. To be more specific, I’ve been inspired by the pastel colors of colonial buildings that hide courtyards of heaven or hell, by the raucous laughter of children chasing a soccer ball on a dusty road, by bees humming in golden stalks of maiz during the rainy season, by the drunken man laying in a pool of his own blood at the roadside, by the wind that washes sin away, by the soft-spoken midnight shaman who cured my heart arrhythmia, and the ghosts, both good and bad, that reside on a strip of geographically and politically unstable land.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Guatemalan ghosts, shamans, spirituality and magic.

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Thanks, Elizabeth, for the inspiration! If you’d like to follow her on Twitter, here’s a link: @esfletcher

Things that are true and help me believe that I’m actually a real live expat now

• I’ve gone through an entire full sized tube of toothpaste – one that I bought new the week I moved in to my apartment.

• Local cucumbers are amazing and I don’t know if I can ever live without them again..

The cucumbers here are so fresh, they still have blooms on them and they are never waxed.

• I wake up at the same Oh My God Thirty hour every day, even when I don’t have to go to work.

• I’m wondering how I ever lived without a housekeeper. My bathrooms are always clean! Whaaaat? That never happened before and now I realize how totally gross I am without someone to clean up after me.

• I’ve done a freelance writing project for a big publishing house and suffered gloriously through the writing process. It was curriculum writing. I missed all my old resources and knew in my mind’s eye exactly where the books I wanted were on the old shelves of my classroom and former office. I started longing for the books I gave away.

Project takes over the dining room table – that’s how you know it’s legit.

• I’m starting to think about errands as adventures instead of confusing and frustrating chores that involve getting stuck in traffic. I may even blog about them soon!

• Reading about far away places like Turkey and Sri Lanka and Morocco sends me directly to SkyScanner to investigate airline ticket options for my next holiday. Some of that travel is even affordable! Then, I go directly to the Lonely Planet Thorn Tree Forum and start creeping on everyone who’s ever written about going there. I am rediscovering my love of research. Istabul betta watch out. Ima be all over her within the year.

• People at The Club remember my name and I’ve forgotten my phone at one place or another so many times, the staff just hunt me down and bring it to me.

I pretty much get to go here whenever I want.

• I’m considering this Ed. D. program once I’m done getting out of debt. I can totally see myself living here for the next ten years. I love and hate the idea of going back to school – but it must mean that I’m feeling more settled, even if I don’t think I feel that all the time.

• Paris is waiting for me – heading there on June 10 and will be in France for 3 weeks. This will be a “farewell for now” excursion – I’ve got a whole lot of world to explore, but I booked this trip as a let me see all the things I love just one more time and without students thing. I can’t really afford it, but I’m doing it anyway because I want to reward myself for not getting stuck in fear and anxiety for the last year. See previous item about debt. Parlez-vous Visa? This excursion is also legit because I’m also working on a collection of essays about travelling with students that will hopefully come together on this trip. Writing! In Paris! There are things that suck a lot more than that. Life is pretty awesome.

I’m pretty sure I’ve taken this same photo at least 25 different times. It’s still my favorite.

Stay tuned: Blog overhaul and more posts about random Abu Dhabi adventures should be coming soon. Have you ever been date tasting? There are things to learn! Dates – the kind you eat – are a big deal here. . .

 

Oh, hello April!

A catch up list.

* My trip to Jordan was remarkable. Petra is definitely a thing you need to see if you’re anywhere in the Middle East. Vast. Mountain city. With lots of Bedouins hanging out and trying to sell you stuff. I’m working on an essay about it. I don’t even know where to start blogging about it, so here is a photo of me on a horse. There are a few more pix on my tumblr blog. I post a decent number of photos there – and it’s easier to post pix and reblog – which means I’m turning into a lazy blogger, I guess.

Not if we don't adjust those stirrups.

The next Indiana Jones?

• Travel in the Middle East is pretty restricted right now, so I’m not anticipating any more trips until June – Paris and July – USA and Canada.

• I’ve been reading a lot, thanks to the amazing friends who have sent me books to fill my shelves. I read at the beach, I read in my comfy chair, and I even have started listening to audio books in the car. Latest book I’ve totally fallen in love with: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. It . . . just . . . moved me in a way most books don’t get anywhere near my heart. Other authors I’m currently obsessed with: Neil Gaiman and Bill Bryson.

• Speaking of Neil Gaiman: the man is all over the internet and I adore that he answers all sorts of questions from his fans. His tumblr blog is lovely and friendly and accessible, as is all of the Twitter flirting between him and his remarkable wife, Amanda Palmer. From what I can tell, he really likes his fans. He is always gentle with even the most random questions, and when I read him, I just want to give him a hug. The thing I love most, though, is when he hands out book recommendations. He’s one of the contributors to this cool blog: What Is Culture, Coach? wherein a person who feels like they’ve missed out on reading and listening and watching all the things that “everyone” has read and watched and listened to asks for suggestions on how to Get Culture. So basically, what I’m trying to say, is that whenever Neil says “You should read this book.” to anyone on the internet, I get my hands on the book. My reading stack is bigger than ever, and I’m really glad I’ve finally gotten over my post-MFA dear god keep those books away from me I think I’m going to die slump.

• Getting acclimated to Abu Dhabi has been using up a lot of my bandwidth. I’ve finally gotten past the feels like vacation stage of being an expat, and I’m smack dab in the middle of holy crap, I actually live here now. This is my home. Now what? stage. To cope, I spend far too much time on Facebook and Twitter and tumblr. I’m rattled to the core. Did I really do this? Am I really living in the desert? Is my home in Minneapolis being inhabited by someone who is not me? Whose idea was this? When will I get used to it? I haven’t been blogging because I don’t want to whine or cause anyone to worry. But since we’re all here, I’ll just let you know – sometimes this is still really scary — the REAL of this. Those times, I don’t feel so brave. So that’s a thing.

• I read the newspaper every day and I’m trying to learn more about contemporary world history and global politics. Newsflash: Educated people not from the USA tend to know a lot more about the whole world and how things fit together than educated, white, middle-class, American me. Let’s just say it can be very embarrassing when someone you’re talking to knows a lot more about your country than you know about his or hers. I hate feeling ignorant, even when said someone is nice about it.

• I am halfway through my PADI open water dive certification and I got to swim in the Indian Ocean last weekend. It was pretty awesome. SCUBA is really physically demanding, and I’m now working on getting into better shape so I can swim comfortably and not wear myself out when I’m in the water. Also: dive gear is REALLY HEAVY. Plus: Oceans are cool. And big. Swimming in them reminds me that I’m really really insignificant: a nanosecond in the life of the sea. Helps keep all the feelings in perspective. There’s an essay in the works there, too. It feels good to be amazed by things and want to write about them. I haven’t been amazed for a while.

• A date would be nice.

• I’m really happy to be in Abu Dhabi. I still haven’t had a camel ride. Making friends is going pretty well. I miss my posse back in Minneapolis. I miss improv and HUGE Theater. Comedy class in Dubai didn’t go so well. Temps are in the upper 90s already and I’m about to find out how well I handle extreme heat on a daily basis.
• I miss you, I love you, and thanks for reading.

The Treasury was actually a tomb. A very fancy tomb.

The Treasury was actually a tomb. A very fancy tomb.

 

Love letters to strangers

Hannah Brencher’s mother always wrote her letters. So when she felt herself bottom into depression after college, she did what felt natural — she wrote love letters and left them for strangers to find. The act has become a global initiative, The World Needs More Love Letters, which rushes handwritten letters to those in need of a boost.

Hannah Brencher believes in the power of pen and paper, and has started a global initiative that encourages strangers to exchange love letters.

This TED speaker is so adorable – and I am a huge fan of mail. So if you want a love letter from me, send your address! I love stories, and I will tell you one with my own hands.

Michele Campbell, PO Box 36859, Abu Dhabi, UAE

Creative process meets information she can’t ignore

Oh, dear readers! How I have neglected you and this lonely dusty blog!

I would apologize, but . . . do I really need to? Whether or not I’m typing here doesn’t improve your digestion or bring a luminous quality to your skin. My favorite memory from Writer School applies: I learned that the world doesn’t need my book. There are plenty of books and book writers out there – the only way my book will make any difference to anyone is if I need to write it. And, then, maybe it will still only matter to me. There are even more blog writers than book writers, and personal blogs matter to their authors much much more than they mean to anyone else. It’s a big internet out there.

So now that’s established, here’s what’s up. I’ve been busy. Full-time high school teaching, late after school sessions with Yearbook twice a week, and a “let’s grab dinner tonight” social calendar filled with awesome people without whose face time and stimulating conversations I’d be completely bereft. Busy with attempts at some sort of regular spiritual practice time and feeling like a Little Dutch Boy trying to plug the leak of November darkness and dancing with SAD, often going to bed earlier than my best friend’s toddler. I’ve kept my head above water, because the alternative isn’t an option.

What all of this means: I haven’t been writing. I haven’t written anything significant to me since my show in August of 2010. I’ve been feeling terrible about that, have written a couple of little articles and short essays that haven’t been satisfying, and generally feeling like a not-writer. Imagine a 1960s era hospital waiting room with white walls, fake plants, overflowing ashtrays, and ugly orange furniture. Creatively, that’s where I’m languishing: the “I’m so busy, I can’t ever finish anything” artist doomface creative timesuck waiting room. The worst part about this room is that the cookies in the vending machine don’t taste very good and I can’t stop eating them anyway. Cookies do not offer creative satisfaction. They offer only a temporary comfort and expanding waistline. Stupid cookies taking away my skinny jean wearing abilities!

Anyway. I signed up for NaNoWriMo and was GUNGHO for two days. Then, I caught a bad cold, started feeling really sorry for myself, felt like a jerk for being behind schedule, then started to let depression* eat my face off for the past two weeks. All those anti-artist vampires started swooshing around me and I let them win. They said things like:

You can’t write. You’ve had your MFA for four years now and haven’t accomplished anything. You aren’t growing as a writer, you’re moving backwards. Plus: You’re not funny. You’re a hack. Nothing you write will ever make a difference in the world. Why would you even bother to write a novel? Who is going to read it? God, you’re such a waste of space. (blah blah blah ad nauseum.)

But the truth of what really happened is this: I got spooked. 3,470 words into a new story, I felt my heart open up and really start to fall in love with a new character – one whose story is finally not mine – and as soon as I closed my computer that morning, I was terrified that my heart was about to be broken. My last extended project, a memoir about living with an alcoholic, broke my heart. Why would this project be any different? Plus, I’m busy! Doesn’t that artist in me know there’s a LIFE to survive out here? Sweet spinning Jesus on a turn style, what do you want from me??

Then, today I read this article: If you’re busy, you’re doing something wrong. It presents research about the difference between elite/high-achieving musicians and average ones – and how the difference between the most “talented” and the “average” performers was not how much they practiced or whether or not they were “gifted” but how they structured their practice time AND the rest of their lives. Here’s a brief summary from the post:

  • The average players are working just as many hours as the elite players (around 50 hours a week spent on music),
  • but they’re not dedicating these hours to the right type of work (spending almost 3 times less hours than the elites on crucial deliberate practice),
  • and furthermore, they spread this work haphazardly throughout the day. So even though they’re not doing more work than the elite players, they end up sleeping less and feeling more stressed. Not to mention that they remain worse at the violin.

Therein lies the reason I feel so stunted and underperforming as an artist: I’m not writing every day. I don’t have a rigid schedule within which I do the crucial and deliberate practice of putting words on the page. Therefore I am not improving.  No wonder I feel like crap about my (not)work. Then, THIS:

Also consider relaxation. The researchers asked the players to estimate how much time they dedicated each week to leisure activities — an important indicator of their subjective feeling of relaxation. By this metric, the elite players were significantly more relaxed than the average players, and the best of the best were the most relaxed of all.

Essentially, I know there’s nothing wrong with the busy life I’m living. I know that teaching eats up a lot of my time. But I could create some rigid, non-negotiable practice time to improve my skills at my creative practice. I could remove an activity or three from each week. I could practice letting my heart fall into something new and not breaking. It’d probably feel pretty good. So, you know. Let’s see what happens with that.

*For the advice-loving and suggestion giving among you, you should know that I’m doing EVERYTHING that I need to do to take care of my mental and physical health. I’m in no danger, I just like to complain sometimes.

PLUS: I’m up for LOVELINKS this month. You should totally vote for me.

layered revelations

I started writing a novel this week, because fighting off a nasty virus wasn’t nearly enough entertainment on the day I stayed home to get well. I have no idea how to write a novel, and I’m excited to see how the process unravels.

One of my former students went to Corsica and took this photo for me.

Consider this fair warning: I’ve given myself permission to write self-indulgent posts that ring with Dear God! What have I gotten myself into this time?!? I’ve finally accepted the unpleasant parts of my creative process: The sinking feeling in my stomach that I’m the dumbest fool ever to pick up a pen, the memory slideshow of failures and regret that remind me of all the projects I’ve dumped before their desired outcomes, the conviction that just because the last project turned out alright, I must be the worst idea-have-er in the universe.

I brunched today with some of my favorite women in Minneapolis. While talking about how easy it is to freak out about creative projects, I admitted that I love the adrenaline. I do my best work when on a deadline. It’s like running all out in front of a train, just a foot ahead of it. Like jumping off the tracks at just the right time. Falling over with exhaustion. Laying in a ditch and panting and feeling my body prickle with sweat and my heart pounding and thinking, “Holy crap I almost died. That was really hard.” Like thinking after, “That was the most fun I’ve had in ages.” And immediately after that, “Let’s do it again!”

So I’m going to do NaNoWriMo this year, which will probably annoy the hell out of some of my readers and make them stop coming back, but whatever. This website is my corner of the internet where I get to twirl around in a glittery, self-interested frilly skirt and pretend that there isn’t bad news happening on every other corner of the internet. It’s a creative process blog. If you want to see me react to world events on a daily basis, follow my Twitter feed.

What will I reveal about the upcoming novel? For now, nothing beyond this little announcement that I’m writing something big and fictiony. I’ve learned that my book and essay ideas are too fragile to be shared before they’re committed to paper in some sort of complete draft. I’ve ruined my desire to write a number of essays because I talked too much about them before my fingers could excavate the story.

TRUTH: I’m relieved to have a new thing. I was getting kinda nervous that there wouldn’t be a gigantic project this winter to alternately revel in and complain about to all of my friends. Stay tuned for freakouts of the holy crap, this is hard, I never learned how to write fiction kind.

Should be fun. Hope you’ll follow along, if only to remind me when I complain that I once thought writing a novel was a great idea.

Life of Art interview: Heather Meyer

Who are you and where is “here” for you right now? 

I am a playwright and actor and improvisor. I also work with The National Theatre for Children as a production associate creating educational comedy shows that tour around the country.

What is your creative practice and what have you learned from it?

Heather. Chicken. Cat. Comedy gold.

I work best when I have a lot of things happening. You know that saying that goes something like “if you want something done, give it to a busy person”? Well, that is how I have recently realized I work best. So I fill my time up pretty well and then give myself short deadlines to produce work. I also find that improv is like working out, it keeps a lot of gears and muscles in shape for both the actor part of me and the writer part.

 

Where do you find inspiration?

Eavesdropping on strangers.

How do you overcome the creative barriers you encounter?

Usually, I just push the cat off of my laptop.

How do you regenerate when feeling artistically depleted?

Doing other things. Like entering a cake into the MN state fair (I did not win a ribbon) or learning hula-hoop tricks. I also have a blog that I self-indulge all over the place on www.cultureofdoingthings.blogspot.com

What does success look like to you?

I like when people remember my name after I meet them.

What do you want people to know about you and your work?

Usually it’s concise and a little funny.

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Thanks much, Heather! In case you’re not a Minnesotan, her MN Fringe show – Your Responsibility for Sex Failure – was a total hit this summer. Congrats!

Life of Art interview: Elisa Korenne

Who are you and where is “here” for you right now? 

I’m a singer-songwriter, storyteller, performer, teaching artist, and writer in rural Minnesota.  My bailiwick includes rock/folk/blues music, a multi-genre variety of original songs and stories about oddballs in history (most recently, my show ‘Oy Vey’ is Jewish for ‘Uff-da’ about Jewish immigrants to the rural Upper Midwest–there were some!), and the memoir I’m writing about moving from New York City to rural west central Minnesota.

Artist with panache rocks hat with veil.

I change my email signature regularly depending on who I feel the most like on any given day.  I collect income from a hodge-podge of performances, song commissions and royalties, grants, teaching opportunities, articles, and the occasional consulting gig (in a former life, I consulted for non-profits).

What is your creative practice and what have you learned from it?

I try to devote a few solid hours each morning to creating.  This works most of the time. I’ve learned that creating is a process, an unfolding that cannot be rushed.  I’ve learned that the best work takes a lot of time—usually much longer than I want it to—and that I need to honor the process for my best work to come forth.

Where do you find inspiration?

In those weird moments when what someone says makes a firework explode in my head and I think, “There’s a song in that!”  In spending time with other artists, especially those working in other genres.  In books.  In art galleries.  In theater.  In music.  In local history museums. In storytelling. In oddballs.

How do you overcome the creative barriers you encounter?

I journal, mull, fret, and freewrite. Then I talk to friends and other artists about it until everyone is bored, especially me. Then I stop trying to fix it and just let it go, and the solution usually comes in a whoosh in some way I would never have actively figured out.

How do you regenerate when feeling artistically depleted?

I do something fun and creative, ideally something that engages me with art or nature:  I visit a museum, take a hike, swim in a lake, go to the theater, listen to different kinds of music.  Oh, and when that doesn’t work I go shopping and indulge in gourmet chocolate hazelnut tortes or the like.  Living in the country, it’s easy to find serenity in the slow pace here, so what I most need is excitement and a concentration of creativity.  That’s when I go visit the city.  Spending a few weeks every year at artist residencies in different places around the country is also reinvigorating.

What does success look like to you?

On my worst days, it looks like my name plastered all over the tabloids.  On my best days, it’s that moment when someone comes up to me after hearing a song of mine, and tells me how it changed them; how they felt understood, heard, and spoken to.

What do you want people to know about you and your work?

You’ll want to listen to my songs on repeat.  You’ll be inspired and engaged by my performances.  You’ll be enthralled and amazed by my songs and stories about oddballs.  And you should buy my albums. And my book, when it comes out.

Learn more at www.elisakorenne.com.

Here are some links to her music: Road Trance and Honest Lies

To become a fan of Elisa’s work, follow her on Facebook

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Thanks, Elisa! As many of you know, Elisa was my director for the show I produced at the 2010 Minnesota Fringe Festival. Her creative talents are awesome and she gets bonus interview points for using the word bailiwick.