Monday, April 23, 2007

How Creative Pursuits Help Us Dull the Pain

I got home late last night from Miami after attending SleuthFest 2007, the mystery conference put on by the Florida Chapter of Mystery Writers of America.

My brain bulges and bubbles over with all I learned, but the topic I want to explore today is how creativity offers us a respite from pain.

On some level, most of us know this. We get started on a project, and we wonder where the time went. We marvel at the ability to “lose” ourselves while engrossed in our hobby. A voice calls downstairs, “Honey, are you coming to bed?” We glance at the clock and register surprise.

What you might not know is that many, many mystery authors pour their personal angst into the pages of their novels. One SleuthFest attendee alluded to the practice with her tee shirt that read: “Don’t mess with me or I’ll put you in my next book!”

Jack Getze’s Big Numbers begins with greedy stockbroker Austin Carr. Carr is behind in alimony and child-support payments. He’s desperate to earn his children back. The book starts when he’s about to be murdered by being strapped to a live 600-pound tuna. When asked about the genesis of Carr, Jack paused and then said, “I’ve been divorced…”

Kathryn Lilley’s Dying to be Thin features a television reporter who checks into a weight-loss clinic. Her goal is to lose enough weight to appear on-air. In her biography, Kathryn tells us that she once lost 90 pounds to win an on-air job. (That’s Kathryn, me, and my good friend Linda Hengerer in the photo.)

I often put personal slights I’ve suffered in my Kiki Lowenstein books. Last week I was on a real tear. I was spewing vitriol to my pal Shirley Damsgaard (author of Which Way to Murder) and she interrupted with, “I hope you are writing all this down because it’s going to make a great scene in a book.” (Which reminds me, I need to do that!)

I’m curious. How does pain fuel your creativity? Do you pour out your problems in a journal? Do you paint pictures that reflect your inner turmoil? (I hope none of you have contemplated cutting off your ear a la Vincent Van Gogh!) Do you turn to your knitting or quilting as a way to block out the drama in your own life? How do your hobbies help you make it through the day? And night?

Let me know and I’ll make it worth your while. Send an email to me at by May 5 (yeah, I’m picking that day on purpose). Tell me: 1.) How your hobby helps you get through life’s rough spots 2.) your name 3.) your postal address and email address. 4.) Put HOBBY in the reference line or I won’t open it.

I’ll choose one of you to receive a copy of Bloody Mary by J.A. Konrath. It’s a signed copy and I promise you, you’ll love it. (Oh, and by sending me your response, you are automatically giving me permission to share your response in an upcoming blog, okay?)

1 comment:

Kathryn Lilley said...

Hi, great picture and great blog post! Sleuthfest was indeed wonderful fun, and it was so great to meet you! All Best, Kathryn Lilley