The Joys Of Creating Are In The Journey

All artists—no matter in what form you create—know that to produce something of value, you have to learn your craft and then break it down into pieces.

Joy of creating

No?

I mean, you don’t start out to write The Great American Novel.  Or to paint a masterpiece.  Or to pen a blog that gets ranked in the top 100.  Or produce award-winning wines.  Or whatever it is you dream of.

Because that’s the dream, no?  And wouldn’t it be great if we could just envision summiting Mt. Everest and find ourselves smiling at the top? 

But if we truly dream, if we’re taken by an idea that won’t let us go, we start figuring out how to get there.  And clichéd as it is, if we just flew straight to the top of whatever mountain, we’d miss the entire journey.

Which is in itself filled with riches and gold.

I’m still tweaking on my time with vintner Gary McKibben at The Red Caboose winery and vineyard. About how he noticed something in his fields (native grapes thriving), and an idea took hold: “We could put in a vineyard.”

That sounds very much like something I see and then think, now that would make a great novel.  Or a snippet of a dream takes me to a land I’ve never seen. Or when I hear the voice of a new character, whispering in my mind . . .

We’re taken by lots of ideas, no?  But it’s the one that keeps coming up that pushes us onward, which we begin to purse in earnest.

I keep thinking how Gary then researched grapes, finding seventeen varietals that grow native in Texas.  How he found the two that grew in his county, and focused on them. And then branched out from there.

Isn’t that just like learning about characters in your story?  Where they came from, who they are, how they came to be?

As with any art, or task we seek to master, we then read and research and listen to the experts.  And along the way, learn to sift and sort the wheat from the chaff. 

And isn’t that one of the tasks “Vasalisa the Wise” has to master in her quest to find her inner guidance?  Yes to this, no to that.  I Just Came here to Dance took that as its main theme, and raced with it from there.

I keep thinking now how the further our winemaker went, the less he paid attention to the experts.  The more he went his own way.

And what a success he’s made of that.

Listening to experts is not a bad thing in and of itself—I myself am one, in the book business!  The books I’ve edited having gone on to great success.

But as I tell my writers, “Rules are meant to be broken. The thing is, you have to understand the rule, know how to use it, before you can effectively break it.”

I know this in my own writing as well.

And isn’t that just like any rule, whether for life or art or producing fabulous wines?

Isn’t that what we learn as we travel our own paths?   The sagacity gained along the journey itself?  That at the end of the day, with all of our learned knowledge, the right choice comes from a wisdom deep within.

I’m laughing too at one vignette Gary told.  As every wineaux knows, you don’t make wine out of your first year’s grapes.  Nor your second.  But in year 2 of the vineyard, Gary and his son had produced 25 gallons each of Lenoir and Tempranillo wine.  You have to have 50 gallons to put in an oak barrel.

They decided: “Let’s make wine!”

So they mixed the two together to make a barrel full.

And funny thing—the Lenoir was high in acid, the Tempranillo was not, so the blend actually worked beautifully.

And isn’t that like when you put your hero and your villain together in a story?  If the mix of positive to negative traits is right, ah, does the interplay work!  Or, when you’re writing a blog, and find just the right friction between your blog’s question and answer that makes the whole thing race off?

Back to our wine making, what that initial experiment taught Gary and his son was the basics of blending wine (which is pretty paramount to actually making wines :).  And they kinda did it on a lark.

Have you ever noticed how the most beautiful creations are made while basking in the dance of inspiration and joy?  Doing something just for the kick of it? 

Of course, then the hard work comes in.  Lol.  As any writer knows, between the Inspiration and The End is, well, just a ton of work.  But the more we stay in that joy, adhering to the love of what we do, the more inspired our process and our product.

Kinda like those incredible wines.

So I’m believing wine making and writing aren’t so different after all.  We all want to make the angels sing, whether on our tongues or in our hearts. 

Much hard work is required to do so.  Many times slogging through the muck and mire, whether in the vineyard or in the recesses of our minds.  But as long as that goal stays in place, the vision of the peak for which we are striving, we are provided with enough passion to propel us on.

Okay, that and beautiful wine.  Pardon me while I go uncork that bottle of 2012 Malbec from The Red Caboose . . .

And dream of where my new novel is taking me.

About the Author Susan Malone

Award-winning writer and editor Susan Mary Malone is the author of the novels, "I Just Came Here to Dance" and "By the Book," as well as four co-authored nonfiction books, including "What’s Wrong with My Family?" and many published short stories. Forty-plus Malone-edited books have now sold to traditional publishers.

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43 comments
Sabrina Quairoli says June 8, 2016

Great comparison of wine and writing a novel! It’s all about hard work and passion, isn’t it? Passion is so wonderful, it helps us go through the rough times and find solutions. Thanks for sharing.

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    Susan Malone says June 8, 2016

    Isn’t passion just the fuel for our fires, Sabrina! And it does help us through those rough times.

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Beth Niebuhr says June 8, 2016

It’s true! Dreams can lead to great things. Sometimes. The journey is often unpredictable and definitely, as you said, “you have to understand the rule, know how to use it, before you can effectively break it.” I like the similarities between wine making and novel writing. Good article!

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    Susan Malone says June 8, 2016

    Our journeys are quite unpredictable, aren’t they, Beth! But what would we do without our dreams?

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Sheila Bliss says June 8, 2016

Oh, that journey can be exasperating, confusing and so incredibly rewarding!
I started my writing journey three years ago with fits and starts. Some days were easier than others and some were down-right painful. But, I kept striving with the blessing of the greatest gift – ignoring the outer white noise and tuning in to listen to my inner voice. Doing so created a confidence in my out-of-the-box comfort zone I never knew I had!
Thanks for a great article, Susan!
I’ve accomplished a few things, but I’m just getting started.

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    Susan Malone says June 8, 2016

    Oh, Sheila, your writing just speaks to listening to your inner voice! You’re going great guns. I love your work!

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Kimberly says June 8, 2016

As much as I would already like to be at the top already of many things that I set myself out to do, I know that without the hard work I would not appreciate it or enjoy it as I should when I get there. Putting in the time and effort to get to where you are going is completely worth the frustrations in the end.

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    Susan Malone says June 8, 2016

    Oh, it is, Kimberly! And all the joys we find along the way as well 🙂

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Rada (journous.com) says June 8, 2016

We all start out somewhere.. at the bottom… and work hard to get to the top. Some tasks that I thought were so hard just a few years ago have become a second nature today. The key to any success is persistence.

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Beverley Golden says June 8, 2016

I was just commenting to one of my friends, (who is also an inspiring creative as well as a fabulous businessman), that I know something is right when and if it flows with ease. If it isn’t, I often not “push” through it. He suggested that that is a wonderful ideal, but not life’s norm. You’ve got to get in the muck and mire and do the work too. Something I have to continue to remind myself, Susan. Maybe that’s why the editing process of my book felt so laborious to me. 🙂 Is it any wonder that this line from your post, jumped out and resonated with me? “Have you ever noticed how the most beautiful creations are made while basking in the dance of inspiration and joy? Doing something just for the kick of it?” I guess what I am learning, and what you reminded me of again in this post, is that the real beauty and joy is in the process. One of my biggest life lessons.

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    Susan Malone says June 8, 2016

    It’s a continuous lesson for me, Beverley, and one which I seem to get to work on often 🙂 But I know in my own writing and revising, when I’m taken by inspiration, in the fun of it, the words just flow. A big life lesson for me too!

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Sheila Bliss says June 8, 2016

Thank you, Susan! That’s a huge compliment coming from you. You just put a great smile on my face!

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Jacqui Odell says June 8, 2016

Creating stuff is a journey and can be challenging. However it’s worth it to see the end product.

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Tamuria says June 8, 2016

Susan, I so loved this post and the clever way you showed the similarities in the creative process, whether you’re writing or making wine.There is so much emphasis on having clear goals, but sometimes doing something “just for the kick of it” takes you on a beautiful journey towards a goal you didn’t even realise.

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    Susan Malone says June 10, 2016

    I so agree, Tamurai–goals are important, but inspiration soars when fun is involved! Ah, doing something just for the joy of it is heaven.

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Jovanhanna says June 9, 2016

Yay for wine and books. Excellent analogy. Creating is a necessity for me. I have studied and continue to learn so that I can also grow in my craft.

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    Susan Malone says June 10, 2016

    Isn’t that the truth, Jovanhanna. We study, we learn, we work toward our craft. And then creativity asks for that bit of inspiration and joy!

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Roslyn Tanner Evans says June 9, 2016

“So I’m believing wine making and writing aren’t so different after all. We all want to make the angels sing, whether on our tongues or in our hearts.” And that is exactly how we feel about creating our jewelry design. Plus our writing about our jewelry has also become as important as the creations. Not a skill or talent either of us was that interested in, but born of necessity in marketing our product. Challenging to say the least.

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    Susan Malone says June 10, 2016

    And it shows in your jewelry, Roz! I swear I can often see the pieces move on their own. Marketing is the challenging part, no? All creative types have to deal with it, and often new skills are born of necessity, no?

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Teresa says June 9, 2016

It’s the passion that makes all the difference in the world, isn’t it? Whether it be wine making, writing or something esle. I comes across in the taste, the words, the feeling, the movement of someone close…we feel passion. Thank you Susan for sharing yours.

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    Susan Malone says June 10, 2016

    Oh, yes, Teresa–passion makes all the difference. Puts the zing and the meaning in our lives . . .

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Rachel Lavern says June 10, 2016

I love hearing stories about people, like the winemaker mentioned above, who study the experts but then go their own way

My favorite part of this post is , “Rules are meant to be broken. The thing is, you have to understand the rule, know how to use it, before you can effectively break it.” I do consider myself to be a “rule breaker” and it is often a really
good idea. Especially those rules that are the beliefs that society subtly (and sometimes not so subtly) says we should or shouldn’t do. Also, those rules about how I “need” to run my business. People call me a rebel, and I’m fine with that; however, I can add your explanation of how I understand the rule first.

I, too, study and research from those with expertise. Then I do some degree of sifting and sorting.

I hope you enjoyed your wine from The Red Caboose and have a great weekend!

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    Susan Malone says June 10, 2016

    I always get a great sense of the rebel in you from your posts, Rachel–and it’s the kind of rebellion that adds texture and richness to your work. And I love the ‘sifting and sorting’ idea! Great point!

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Karen Grosz says June 10, 2016

Love your comparison between writing and wine making. My favorite part is that you need to know when to break the rules. for me this is it. I have to know the rules (as a rule follower) in order to break them once in a while.

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    Susan Malone says June 13, 2016

    So true, Karen–when we know the rules, then we can break them effectively!

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Kristen Wilson says June 10, 2016

Interesting and true.. we don’t PLAN to strike it rich, make it the next big thing.. but we can always hope that it will pan out as well as we hope… right!

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    Susan Malone says June 13, 2016

    Absolutely, Kristen! And people make it “big,” in all different fields, every single day . . .

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Joan M Harrington says June 10, 2016

Hi Susan,
Wonderful comparison to the winery post 🙂 It really is all about that creative process and just so cool to see how far we can go in our dreams!

Thanks for sharing another awesome post! Love reading your posts as they always make me think and yes become more creative 🙂

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    Susan Malone says June 13, 2016

    Ah, becoming more creative is the main key to the kingdom, isn’t it, Joan?

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Joyce Hansen says June 11, 2016

Susan, I like the part about where you say the ideas keep coming up and about the ones that push us forward.I’d like to believe that it comes from a higher part of our cosmic self that knows what’s good for us. If we pay attention and follow, life becomes an incredible journey, whether it is for ourselves or the characters we express ourselves through. I’m sure I will be totally immersed in your characters’ journeys. Keep us posted when publication is imminent.

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    Susan Malone says June 13, 2016

    I believe that too, Joyce–that soft whisper of inspiration comes from that higher self, whatever you deem it to be. The listening and following parts are the challenge! But once I learned to listen, to heed the voice, ah, didn’t life just change drastically for the better.

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Liz Benoit Cozby says June 12, 2016

Susan,
You’re story reminded me of two things: 1) my favorite biology teacher who was co-creating a winery in the Big Bend desert, and the stories he would share with us when he would come to class after a weekend at his experimental vineyard; and 2) my own writing process. I usually get great ideas for my research projects, but then I always have to go deep into (as Beverley called it) the muck and mire of research to support my theories. I find that the times that I totally try to avoid my writing are when my “perfect” endings appear. Thanks for the great story! 🙂

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    Susan Malone says June 13, 2016

    Very interesting on the perfect endings, Liz! I’ll have to chew on that one a bit, which of course, I love to do 🙂

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Jackie Harder says June 13, 2016

Re breaking rules: Totally agree. You have to know what they are first in order to break them in meaningful, thoughtful ways. What gets us through the hard slog is reconnecting with how we will feel when we get what we’re working so hard for. Always have to keep that in our hearts. And have a glass of Malbec for me, too, would you? 😉

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    Susan Malone says June 14, 2016

    I so agree, Jackie–what gets us through the hard slog is reconnecting with our feelings! Beautifully put, and oh, so true

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Joan Potter says June 13, 2016

Susan – It IS in the journey. With writing, I find that the journey is everything and it is joyous – and is so much cheaper than a psychiatrist!

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    Susan Malone says June 14, 2016

    LOL, Joan! Yep–the writing journey is truly so much cheaper than a psychiatrist. And so much more effective! How much I’ve been able to truly understand about myself and my world by writing it out . . .

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Judy Peterson says June 24, 2016

I had a dream while I was raising my son. Someday I wanted to go out and photograph the beauty of life. How the light shines through trees, how water flows, petals holding onto the last drop of rain, butterflies and birds in flight. I waited until he finished high school and then I went outside with my camera. Over time my work has gotten better. Over time it will get better. My dream has been in the works now for over 15 years. I have a long way to go. It’s my dream.

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    Susan Malone says June 24, 2016

    What a cool story, Judy! I love that you’ve nurtured your dream all this time. And your photographs are stunning!

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      Judy Peterson says June 24, 2016

      Good morning.
      Thank you!

      Reply
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