Creativity in General (and in Particular)

by Elizabeth Engstrom

Many of my writer friends engage in a variety of creative endeavors. Some are painters of exquisite artworks. Some sing. Some dance. Some quilt, or do stained glass. I knit and dabble in this and that. But mostly, we write.

Anyone who writes knows the exasperation of the inadequacies of language. With every sentence we write, with every idea we speak, we invite misunderstanding.

It occurs to me that if we had perfect mind-to-mind communications, if we could communicate our thoughts thoroughly—including all history, nuance, and emotion—in a sublime little info packet upload, there would be no need for language.


If we had no need for language, would our need for a creative outlet vanish?  We would no longer strive to explain, to clarify, to enlighten. We would no longer need to defend, to support, to go to the enormously great lengths we go to in order to express ourselves.

We as a species, would be much the poorer.

Who would we be without the inspirational art, the moving music, the inestimable beauty, the revealing literature that has come from the anguished soul?

We would be bereft.

We might actually discover that we really have nothing to say to one another.

I often say that writers are the keepers of the literature, the chroniclers of our times. But we are much more than that. We are the ones who wrestle with language, endeavoring to explain that which has no explanation, to describe the indescribable, to put motive to that which is inexplicable.

Writers reach deep within themselves to comprehend their inner truth, and then grapple with the insufficient words of language, so that we might express it well enough to touch another’s inner truth. I have been touched many times by the brilliant writings of fearless authors, and have been changed by that interaction. That is my goal as a writer: to touch another. To make a difference.

Clearly, artists of every type spend time in anguish. A friend once told me that it is just as hard to write a bad book as it is to write a good book, and I believe that to be true. In either case, the author suffered to express.

As we go through our days, we might take a moment to appreciate the things that adorn our homes, offices, lives. Every single thing that we see was crafted by someone who put some part of their heart and soul into their work. We take it all for granted, but we should not, lest our work be dismissed as easily.

A Scary Hallows Eve to All

By Cheryl Owen-Wilson

October is my favorite time of the year—a time of vibrant reds and oranges from falling leaves, and also a time when we celebrate Halloween and The Day of the Dead.   I love all the accoutrements, from dressing up and becoming something or someone entirely different, to candles dripping with blood, to cauldrons boiling—I look forward to it all. For most of my friends their holiday is Christmas. They have storage units filled with shiny, sparkling baubles. My storage unit contains costumes, a coffin (see last years blog), cobwebs, spiders and of course skeletal remains. Most have a Santa and sleigh to adorn their roof. I however, have another vision and they’re not of sugarplums dancing in my head. I have a vision of skeletons crawling up and over my roof. I think perhaps after Halloween I’ll leave them and in December they can sport Santa hats. As a writer of Southern Gothic tales my Halloween props serve to inspire me. The other tool I use to get my muse going is to write poetry about my subject. So in honor of this month of howling wolves and all things long departed, I’ve redone a classic poem to suit my taste. I hope you enjoy, and if you happen to have a spare cadaver or two please send them my way. My collection is growing day by day. Please take a moment to tell me what inspires your writing.


A Scary Hallows Eve to All

Twas the night before Hallows Eve when all through the house,               the Spirits were a’stirring,                                                                               why there was even a dead mouse.

The cauldrons were hung by the chimney with care,                                   bubbling and brewing a potion most rare.

The children were rising from their casket beds,                                         while visions of voodoo dolls danced in their heads.

And mamma in her shroud and I with my top-hat,                                     had just started rising from our long undead nap.

When out in the graveyard there arose such a clatter,                               I sprang from my crypt to see what was the matter.

Away to the mausoleum I flew like a flash,                                                   tore open a tomb and threw out some trash.

The hunter’s moon was just rising and cast a bright glow.                         Which gave a lustre of crimson to objects below.

When what to my bleary undead eyes should appear?                               But a gleaming black hearse,                                                                           pulled by eight phantom deer.

With a sinister old driver so evil and bad,                                                       I knew in a moment it must be Count Vlad.

More rapid than banshees his courses they came,                                       And he screeched, and he shrieked,                                                             and he called them by name.

Now Basher! Now Lancer! Now Cancer and Vixen!                                       On Vomit! On Pudrid! On Squander and Nixon!

To the top of the graveyard, to the top of the pall,                                       now slash away, bash away, thrash away all!

As dry brittle bones rattle, shake, scream and cry,                                       when they meet with an obstacle,                                                                  upon the most high,

So up to the tomb-top the ghoulish crew flew,                                               with a hearse full of corpses,                                                                         and Count Vlad of course, too.

And then in the darkness I heard on the roof,                                               the scraping and clawing of each phantom’s hoof.

As I drew in my carcass and was turning around,                                         down through the catacombs                                                                           he came with a bound.

He was dressed in a cape from his head to his foot.                                     His white shirt was all splattered                                                                     with the blood he’d just took.

A bundle of bones he had flung on his back                                                   And he looked like a grave-robber                                                                   just opening his pack.

His eyes—how they gleamed! His gaze was quite scary!                               His skin was like marble, his fangs made me wary.

And when he opened his mouth in a smile, don’t you know?                       Those fangs actually gave off a stunning, white glow.

Drips of scarlet still clung to the points of his teeth,                                     and I drew in stale breathe as a blade he unsheathed.

He had the chiseled face of a Botticelli.                                                           But his demeanor was straight from the pages,                                                of M. Shelley

Was he here on a mission, a demented black elf?                                         I pondered and worried in spite of myself.

His eyes sought a tomb just above my skull’s head                                       And soon I knew I had nothing whatsoever to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,                                     and filled the tombs coffers then turned with a jerk.

And laying a bony finger aside of his nose,                                                     And giving a nod up through the graveyard he rose.

He sprang to his hearse, to his demons gave a shrill whistle,                       And away they all roared like a death seeking missile.

But I heard him cry out ere he drove from my sight,                                   Scary Hallows Eve to All and to All a Good-Fright!

Day of Dead Moon
“Day of Dead Moon”
An Original Painting by Cheryl Owen-Wilson (MeCo)