I often spruik the benefits of the internet and particularly Facebook. While others are bemoaning this social media platform, I have seen it as a conduit to building relationships. If it weren’t for this app, I may never have gotten to know today’s creative woman. And if that were the case, you probably wouldn’t be hearing about her!
Ellen Morris Prewitt is a writer from Memphis, Tennessee. I first became aware of her work when I read her book on Cross Making. This book was my first glimpse into of the importance of trusting your hands and heart to give you access to the knowledge that your head knows, however that you are not aware of. It was the catalyst that led to me researching LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® MATERIALS AND METHODOLOGY, and eventually becoming a trained facilitator. So where does Facebook come in? Well that is how, quite a few years ago, I connected with Ellen. A connection that would never have occurred were it not for social media. Enough of my ramblings, I am sure you would love to hear from Ellen.
Tell me a bit about yourself and your creative practice.
I’m a writer of the most eclectic sort. I cram as much writing into my life as possible while still staying in community with those I love, and causes I admire. Because of this, I follow a “whenever I can” writing practice. What this means is that I’m editing on my computer at 10:00 at night, jotting notes on my iPhone at the dentist, or approving audio files while my husband fixes supper. We divide our time between Memphis, Tennessee/New Orleans, Louisiana/ and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Whatever city we are in, when luxurious hours stretch before me, I’m on my bed writing with my dog keeping me company (“Evangeline, you ready to go work?”)
What is your genre/medium?
I write, my first book was about making crosses from broken and found objects, aptly named Making Crosses: A Creative Connection to God. Other than poetry, I work in almost every form: personal essay, memoir, short stories, radio commentaries, magazine articles, and novels. From my radio commentaries to my short story collection (Cain’t Do Nothing with Love), to the podcast and audio book of my novel, I have a particular focus on narrating my work. I also edited Writing Our Way Home: A Group Journey Out of Homelessness, the memoir of a weekly writing group of men and women experiencing homelessness which I led for 8 years.
What is your first memory of being creative?
When I was a child, several times a year, my family drove long hours between North Carolina and Mississippi. I passed the time by telling stories about whatever I saw outside the car window (“Let me tell you about the people who live in that house.”) Then one summer when I was in middle school and walking the beach with my mother and aunt. My mother told my aunt I could make up a story about anything. She pointed to a dead fish washed up on the shoreline and said, “Tell us a story about that dead fish.” So I did! It was the first time I was consciously aware that I was creative, this story-telling thing I did was unusual, and my mother was proud of it.
Who or what inspires you?
An image, a snatched line of conversation, a “What if?”(“What if Jean Laffite the pirate king came back to save New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina the way he saved the city during the War of 1812?”), an ironic twist in the Universe, a desire to right a moral wrong, a comic situation that just tickles me, a dream by my husband (“I dreamed you wrote a fashion model detective novel”), an odd word, my conflicted family history, a narrative challenge (write a short story set at a silent retreat), an unsolved mystery, a story hidden in time, research, a new geography of place, a period of grief, a moment of happiness, the wonderful, terrible journey that we call Life.
Is there anything special you do to get into the right mindset and get the creative juices flowing?
My creative juices gush like a Mississippi culvert in a summer thunderstorm. So my challenge is more about accepting how much time writing eats (getting it down on paper, revising and editing, soliciting feedback, and releasing it into the world.) I do know when Evangeline joins me on the bed that we’re getting down to business, and no nonsense will be tolerated.
How do you deal with creativity blocks?
Sometimes when I’m revising a work, I realize a major alteration is in order, but I’m not sure what it is. When that happens, I go for a walk. Or I ride my bike. Or I carry heavy weights around. But whatever it is, I get away from the work and get physical. When I return, the answer is clear and organized in my mind.
What is one tip you would give other creatives?
Follow the truth of your talent. Trust that the world needs it.
What is your favourite, colour, book, song, food and place?
Favourite colour is orange, The Golden Apples by Eudora Welty is my favourite book and “When Love Comes to Town” By BB King and U2 favourite, favourite music. My most favourite food, fried okra, baklava, and dark chocolate (though not all at once!). Favourite place, Heaven on Earth!
To quote Ellen “You can peruse my wildly different offerings, listen to me narrating my stories, and follow my blogposts at ellenmorrisprewitt.com Keep up with my antics at https://www.facebook.com/MyVerySouthernVoice/
The Audio of Tracking Happiness: A Southern Chicken Adventure will release in fall of 2018.