Talking creativity

This week there was a terrific chat on the radio with the author of Creativity and Motherhood, and The Divided Heart, Rachel Power; and Pip Lincolne and Clare Bowditch. What an amazing bunch of women talking about the juggle of parenting and creativity.

Pip and Rachel have both written blog posts about their radio chat here and here, and I thought I'd write a little post about my thoughts here too!

I've been excited for ages about Rachel's new book, Creativity and Motherhood, and even more so when I realised Pip was going to be a contributor. You see, I read Rachel's first book, The Divided Heart, when I was pregnant with my first child, and it made a big impression.

In truth, it scared and excited me in equal parts. I had no idea what the little bubba growing inside would bring, and no idea how parenthood would change our lives. We'd moved from the city to a country town (where we knew no one), bubba's due date was three weeks away, and then The Divided Heart arrived in the mail.

I'd heard about the book and wanted to read how mothers were balancing creativity in their lives with children and all the responsibilities of parenthood.

Looking back, I think I wanted to find a neat answer about how, in the excited/scared/what-on-earth-is-coming space before my first child, I'd still find the time to write, read, make stuff and be creative.

It dawned on me as I read The Divided Heart, how much I'd taken for granted the relatively large chunks of uninterrupted creative time (around full-time work), I'd had, prior to my first child's arrival.

I found no easy answers in The Divided Heart. Instead, all the messy, beautiful, hard, uncertain, joyous, and mundane parts of parenthood and life, interwoven with the contributors'  creative journeys.

It scared me because some contributors mourned the lack of creative space they had in their lives, while absolutely celebrating the joys of motherhood. Some relished the new insight and creative drive motherhood had given them, and all spoke of how they fitted in creative time in their lives after children.

I've re-read the book several times since, and had so many conversations with friends about creativity, parenthood, and finding time for making the things we love.

Rachel's two books, the discussion between Rachel, Pip and Clare, and Pip and Rachel's recent blog posts, raise such interesting issues. I'm so glad we - as women, as mothers, as fathers, as parents, as humans, keep talking about creativity and its place in all our lives.

I don't think it's a "first world problem", or a hobby reserved for the well-off. Apart from the great points made by Rachel, Clare and Pip about how many creatives pay bills, bring up families and run businesses as a result of their creative endeavors, I also think creativity is food for the soul.

I started a new job five weeks ago, in my field - working with women and children escaping domestic and sexual violence. I love what I do. Sometimes it's hard. Since returning to this work, I've found myself desperate to make things, no matter how small. 

At lunch time, sitting in the park in the sun, I'll knit a few rows, or scribble out a short story plan. At night when the boys are asleep, I'll make up a biscuit recipe for them and hide funny notes in their lunchboxes for them to find the next day.

While the biscuits are cooking I write a bit more at the kitchen table, try and teach myself to crochet watching YouTube and Pip's tutorials (thanks Pip!), or bang out a few more knitting rows. It's simple. It's slow. I'm learning.

And in all these small moments, there's the simple joy of creating. I think it's in everyone, an innate part of being human. It's not about a publishing deal, or selling stuff, or being exhibited. It's just the joy of making something, often for someone we love - something we humans have been doing for centuries.

I see the same joy in my boys' eyes when they make dinosaurs out of play-dough; when they help me break eggs and stir a cake batter. I see it in art therapy groups with women escaping violence, and I see it in children who come to the Sydney Story Factory and write their amazing short stories.

These kids don't always have it easy. Some struggle with reading and writing. Some are bullied at school, or are going through a tough time at home.

At the Sydney Story Factory I've seen their creative sparks shine bright when they write and read their short stories, then take a printed copy home afterwards. There's laughter, there's confidence grown, there's joy and the pride of having created a story. It's incredible stuff, and it's not the domain of the wealthy or time-rich.

Hanging out with these kids, having my own kids and working in my field, has made me realise how essential creativity is to a full life, with all its hard and joyful times. These small creative moments matter I think, regardless of what our individual lives might look like.

Some days all I can fit in is a couple of rows of knitting, a couple of paragraphs of writing. A lunchbox note and a baked snack. A made up story for my toddler, whispered into his ear before he sleeps. But these creative moments (no matter how small), provide the counter-balance to the hard stuff in our world.

I think everyone's creative spark deserves to be lit, sheltered from harsh winds and fed. If only for small moments, even if that's all there is, in busy, burdened or hard days, and lives.

Thank you to Rachel, Pip, Clare, and others for keeping this conversation going. The radio chat raised tough issues, but I think how we view and treat creativity and its place in all our lives, is such an important discussion to have.

What do you think?


  1. Having read yours and Pip's post on the chat I'm definitely going to have to listen to the segment. It sounds like it really raised some interesting thoughts and comments. Conversation is a good thing though isn't it? I feel a lot of the time we're either surrounded by people that just agree or like our things and the conversation is not very balanced, because people are just not engaging to have the discussion. Or at the other end of the spectrum there's the full-blown disagreement but with no manners so then it's really not a conversation. It's something I'm really interested in - finding ways to keep a conversation going even when you don't agree. Right. enough with the rambling. Must away and listen to the chat! Hope you have a lovely week Pia.

  2. So true, and I wonder if social media kind of intensifies these conversations, where sometimes it seems that not very respectful discussions are taking place? Nothing wrong with respectful disagreement or a variety of opinions - it makes for some rich exploration of issues. The radio segment was really good, it raised issues I'd never thought about before. Thanks for dropping by x

  3. Lovely post Pia. I am not a parent but my life is busy with a full time job (with remarkable parallels to your job !) and everything else so I love your advice about how to squeeze in a little bit of creativity into a busy day. I am guilty of putting off things I'd love to do due to being time poor but "small creative moments" are most certainly do-able and achievable. Thanks for reminding me of this. The Sydney Story factory sounds like a wonderful program - I'm going to look into it further x

  4. Hi Ing me too! Part of writing the post was to try and celebrate those small moments. I'm wondering if we'll cross paths in our work circles one day?! Hope you're well x



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