2016 has turned out to be a year of achievement for my father, Paulino Lim Jr. As a critically-acclaimed writer and professor of English literature, recently he was one of the twenty-three honored with the 2016 Presidential Award for Filipino Individuals and Organizations Overseas—for his fiction and scholarly essays that are constructive criticisms of the political, social and religious problems in the Philippines.
And in March, he was honored with a lifetime achievement award for his significant contributions to Philippine literature from his alma mater University of Santa Tomas—the Parangal Hagbong Award for the 31st Gawad Ustetika (the longest running literary competition), is given by the Varsitarian, the official student publication. When in college, he was a reporter and associate editor, and wrote many short stories for the newspaper.
Is it any surprise that I’m always citing my father as a role model? Even at 81 years old, he’s still writing, still creating and still inspired to look at the world and critically examine its beauty and its horrors.
Congratulations, Dad! We are so very proud of you!
This month is about giving shout outs to creative New Yorker friends.
Kim Masson, writer, environmental activist and native New Yorker, has recently released her debut novel, Craig’s List Chronicles: byte-size tales. She’ll be giving a reading and signing books Wednesday, May 25th @ 6:30 pm at Margaret Thatcher Projects!
Intrigued by the plaintive, hopeful and often bizarre nature of the Missed Connections ads on Craigslist, Kim wrote a fictitious one just to see if anyone would respond. What ensued became the inspiration for her novel: loads of people emailed, claiming to have seen her faux character on the subway.
“I was shocked when people took my Missed Connection ad seriously,” says Kim. “Especially when it involved a zebra mesh tank top and a gal in a wheelchair wearing golden ballet slippers. It’s amazing what some people are willing to believe.”
After meeting her future husband from a job posting on Craigslist, Kim says,
“That’s when I knew I needed to write a book chronicling all of my strange Craigslist experiences. Some of my encounters were so weird and profound; I had to get them on the page. Craig’s List Chronicles: byte-size tales was born shortly afterwards.”
Told via emails, letters to Craig and classified postings, this keenly observant and funny novel follows the adventures of Kelly Brixi as she searches for love and meaning in the Big Apple right after Y2K. If you’re in the area, check out Kim’s reading and be prepared to laugh out loud.
The book is available now on Amazon.
If you’re looking for ways to expand your creativity then you must check out these two books about the creative process. inGenius: A Crash Course on Creativity by Stanford professor Tina Seelig and The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life by renowned choreographer Twyla Tharp. These books are the backbone of the class I’m teaching this spring about the subject. And they are great! Both offer valuable insights into developing your creativity. I’ll give you a hint: reframing how you see the world inspires you to form new ideas. Oh, and that other thing. Hard work!
Tharp offers ways to build habitual routines into your life; reflective exercises to explore your passions and help you come to grips with pesky, inhibiting fears; and tools to organize your creative juices so they’re available as needed. She also posits that there are no creative geniuses. She uses Mozart as an example. While he was naturally inclined toward music at a young age, his father nurtured his abilities with a comprehensive education that included philosophy as well as music. By the time Mozart was in his twenties, he already had dozens of symphonies under his frock coat. According to Tharp, his musical gifts weren’t divine, which is how creative geniuses are often perceived. They have extreme concentration, focus and determination to get things right, however they define that for themselves.
You can say the same about Prince, a modern-day Mozart. He’s been on my mind because of his recent death. His musical precociousness was evident, and arguably, his obsessive focus, enabled him to create masterful music. Maybe that all consuming passion to relentlessly create is where the divide between the Mozarts and Princes of the world and us mere mortals really lies.
As a professional writer, who has to be creative on demand, I can attest that creativity involves so much more than waiting for the muse to strike. It requires opening up my mental faucet so that all ideas—the good, the bad and the meh—can be explored. I know that putting in the effort to refine, rewrite and give shape to a project will result in something I can be proud of. I believe this effort, discipline, work, or whatever you wish to call it, allows one’s creativity to bloom into its fullest expression.
Check out Tina Seelig’s fascinating model for building your creativity and see if it resonates with you.