The Creator’s Universe of Support

I believe people are inherently creative. It’s in our nature to want to make things, to create.

Some people write, some quilt, some cook or do whatever they do that allows them to create something that makes them happy. They look at what they made, they smile, and say “I made that.”

Creating makes us feel good.

Creators must know who is in their “Universe of Support.” This concept is from Jennie Nash, author, book coach, and trainer of book coaches. I learned it from Jennie in her revision workshop.

Two concentric circles
© Jennie Nash

At the core of the Universe of Support are those few people who support you unconditionally, consistently. They love you and they love what you make. You can show them your lumpy first effort and they will tell you it’s beautiful and that you are wonderful. For me, Laurie, Jill, and (when I was a kid) my grandma fit in the core.

Two concentric circles, with Laurie, Jill, Grandma in the core
© Jennie Nash

In the next ring of the Universe of Support are those people who offer specific kinds of help at specific times. For example, they can troubleshoot why your yeast rolls turned out like hockey pucks, or give you tips about how to use Instagram to market your custom quilts. People in that ring of my Universe of Support have expertise that helps me at certain stages of writing or publishing. Different problems, different people to help with those problems.

Two concentric circles, with Laurie, Jill, Grandma in the core, and Katie, Kazi, Oliver, Virginia, Pax and Naomi in the next ring
© Jennie Nash

Then we come to the frontier, the outer reaches of the Universe of Support. This is where the danger lies.

Sometimes the danger is obvious—you know you cannot trust someone with your creation. But sometimes it’s sneaky—you think you can trust someone, but you can’t. They will say or do something that hurts you. At the worst, their response is so hurtful that you stop creating.

I hope it is not your partner or spouse who fits this category. I hope it is not your mother.

It was my first husband. He found a million ways to interrupt me whenever I tried to write. I temporarily solved the problem by setting an alarm for 3AM, writing, then going back to bed at 4AM.

I permanently solved it by divorce.

Another person in the outer reaches: my mother.

Two concentric circles, with Laurie, Jill, Grandma in the core, Katie, Kazi, Oliver, Virginia, Pax and Naomi in the next ring, and Mom in the outer reaches
© Jennie Nash

I knew this, and even though I knew this, I violated my rule to not show her my books.

It happened because I gave away a few copies of Prince Tarkten (the printed not-quite-right version) to friends of my mom’s at her senior center, who have now become friends of mine. I thought it would be awkward if a friend commented to my mom about it and my mom hadn’t seen it. So, I gave one to my mother.

Mistake.

Mistake.

Mistake.

When she read Prince Tarkten we were in her apartment. She was in her reading chair and I was on the little sofa. She closed the book and said nothing. I asked what she thought of it. Her silence told me it was a question she’d prefer to avoid. I said, “What did you think of the illustrations?” Now she spoke.

“Why did she make everyone so fat?  And their noses so big?  Did you know  she was going to make them like that?”

Two concentric circles, with Laurie, Jill, Grandma in the core, Katie, Kazi, Oliver, Virginia, Pax and Naomi in the next ring, with the boundary of the circle a thick bright red, with Mom outside the red
© Jennie Nash

My mom’s opinion is just one opinion, but it carries an extra sting because she’s my mom. Even though she raised me, the rules of the Universe of Support still apply: Do not let those in the outer reaches anywhere near your work.

Protect your creations.

Protect your self.

PS: I think the book illustrations are beautiful.


Chewing the Cud of Good

Little cookies in a clear bag decorated with red hearts
Thankful for love, the various ways it is given to me, and the various ways I give it.

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