“My children keep me grounded, my ideas fresh, encourage me, always know the right thing to say.”
1. Describe your current family situation
I live in a village on the edge of a forest with my husband and two kids.
2. In your eyes, what does ‘creativity’ mean and why is it important to you?
Creativity is a way of living, a way of being in the world, which means taking the time to slow down and appreciate what’s around us, whether that’s nature or the city. It’s about paying attention to ourselves too, to that inner voice, to intuition.
3. How do you carve out time and space within family life for your creative practice?
My kids are aged 11 and 14 and carving out time and space is never easy. The way I do it has changed over the years and I’m sure will continue to change. When they were small, I wrote in the evenings, when they were in bed. Now they are bigger and don’t like to get up so early, I write in the mornings. I am also lucky enough to have a quiet tiny cabin in the garden just out of reach of wifi, where I make space to read, write or think.
4. What kind of creative activities do you feel drawn to again and again?
Always writing. With a fountain pen flowing with ink or touch typing my thoughts. Either way. Mostly both. One after the other and back again.
5. How do you get inspiration flowing when you feel stuck?
I walk, do housework, lie down, turn to books, read far too much writing advice. And I run writing workshops where the participants inspire me every time. But mostly I write until I’m unstuck.
6. In what ways do you sabotage your own creative life?
My inner critic is far too loud. So listening to that voice is my biggest danger.
7. Who or what are your creative allies or mentors?
Other writers and teachers I’ve picked up along the way.
8. How would you describe the relationship between your creativity and your mothering?
I bob back and forth between both, constantly. Never enough time or energy for either and yet, somehow they belong together. My children keep me grounded, my ideas fresh, encourage me, always know the right thing to say.
I stopped working on a novel once, told myself I needed to be there more for the children, that I was doing it for them. Then, later, they told me they missed me working on it, missed me talking about my ideas. I didn’t write much before I had children, so for me, creativity and mothering have always been entwined.
9. To what extent does your creative work generate a financial income for your family? How does this reality compare to your aspirations around this?
It is a precarious existence, I would ideally like more financial stability for the future, but I’m working on that plan every day.
10. What would you say to a mother who is struggling to express herself in the midst of her family commitments?
Go easy on yourself, do what you can. Take notes. Tiny fragments all add up, and will be an unbelievably useful resource for your future self.
11. Big yourself up, sister – share your current / most exciting projects, web and social media links:
I’m finishing a masters degree in creative writing at the moment, so very much immersed in a cocoon of creativity and reflection. My outward-facing work is my range of creative writing workshops in Sussex, where you’ll find more details on: www.honeyleafwriting.com.
I’m Mel Parks, a writer and editor, who runs creative writing workshops and coaches people to discover, listen to and trust their own, unique voice. I believe in the power of writing for creativity, connection and community.