As time goes on, I increasingly value learning from others. I don’t believe the creating process happens in a vacuum. Rather, we are influenced by what and who is around us. When we take the time to listen to others, whether they work in similar or different fields than us, we have the opportunity to hear different perspectives, providing a different outlook on how to view something. And with creating, different perspectives are valuable in developing what is being created and helps us to grow.
Today I had the opportunity to talk with Bailey Rathbun, a friend, a writer, and a fellow creative. It has been a joy to have her insight and feedback and I’m thankful for the support she provides.
What kind of creating do you do?
I have a bunch of different mediums in which I like to create. I started learning to sew when I was 8, so I’ve been haphazardly practicing that art form for years now. Likewise, I love using paper, string, and stickers (loooove stickers) to make a couple different paper crafts. Mostly postcards and letters and envelopes for friends. Finally, I knit and crochet, badly, but happily.
Aside from fiber crafts, I also like to write. My style has developed into a very self-deprecating, humorous retelling of day-to-day life. I have stuck to the “write what you know” mantra, and I don’t know anyone better than I know myself, so that’s the easiest place from which to draw material.
Of the spectrum of mediums you work with, do you have a favorite?
Writing is by far my favorite. I almost constantly want my hands to be busy, which is what has led me to gradually grow my skill in physically crafting things. But sewing, knitting, crocheting, making things with paper, these have always been hobbies. My writing feels like it’s a more integral part of my personality. I use it constantly in both creative and professional ways, and it’s one of the skills that seems most useful in the professional world. I think I cultivate my writing with much more passion than I do my other crafts.
What do you love most about writing, or creating in general?
I, like most of the people I know, have a deep need to be understood and appreciated by the people around me. One way that I put my voice into the world is by writing and sending that writing out. It helps me feel connected to the people that read it, and it brings me joy to think that we can share our experiences. Since most of the writing I share is autobiographical, it also helps me develop a sense of vulnerability and genuine expression. If I hit hard times, if I make a mistake, I can exorcise some of the embarrassment or pain that goes along with that by getting it on paper and gaining some distance from it, while acknowledging the lessons I learned along the way.
Mmm, I think you’ve aptly described the value in writing. Do you ever face challenges in the writing process? If so, how do you approach resolving them?
Challenges are one of the best parts of the writing process. Maybe of any process. That’s where the really good stuff happens. My number one issue is wordiness. If you can’t already tell by this interview, I am long-winded. In my brain it sounds like elegance, and on paper it looks like pretension. I used to beat myself up about that, but now I find it comforting. If I write a draft with too many words, it feels much more satisfying to go back through and cut away the fat. I tend to say what I need to first, and edit later. That’s a real problem in conversation, but it’s a Godsend in my writing process.
From personal experience with reading some of your writing, I think my favorite part about the result of this process you describe, is the way you tell a story with your words. It draws you in as if you were right there, experiencing it with you (and in the cases where I’ve been a part of the story you are telling, it’s a joy reading the perspective you bring).
Final question for today: How would you describe the reason (the why) behind what you do?
I’d be lying if I said I only pursue writing for the joy. It’s a skill that I have raw talent in. That’s a good starting point for me, because frankly I’m not sure I have the determination to pursue something like this without feeling like I have a bit of a head start. Being encouraged throughout my life to continue to pursue writing has given me the little ego boost I need to keep attempting it. When people produce things, we only have so much energy to put into dealing with rejection. So it’s helpful to feel like even if I never reach brilliance (which I won’t haha!) I can still communicate ideas and feelings to people in a way that is affecting. And I love to talk. Writing is just talking on paper. I always think I have something to say, and I always want people to hear it, even if they don’t need to! When you write down your ideas instead of over sharing with strangers, it suddenly becomes art, rather than an obnoxiously eager woman demanding you give her your attention. I write because it fulfills ego, a desire for attention, and MAYBE a small amount of artistic intuition. Those aren’t particularly romantic ideas, I know, but they are brutally honest. And I doubt any other writers would deny that those reasons influence them. I said before that connecting to others through shared experience feels amazing, and that remains true. I just also like that people care enough to read through my monologues.