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Creativity-Portal.com Creative Careers in the Arts Series
Pat Conway Interview : Page 2 of 4

Poet and Photographer Pat Conway

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Q: As a young mother, was it tough to find time for creative work? How did you cope with these stressors and keep writing?

A: Time is one of the biggest challenge, I think, for all of us. I'm a night owl, so most of my creative writing I did at night when the kids were asleep and the house was quiet.

Sometimes, it's also difficult to make others understand the importance of writing. I've found over the years that people don't think writing is a "real" job, or consider it less important than other types of work. I've heard this complaint from many of my writing friends and my brother-in-law, who writes healthcare administrative textbooks. When you're in your office or computer room, people think it's okay to interrupt you because you're just writing. It can be frustrating.

Q: When you look to the future, what are your goals and dreams? Please tell our readers a little bit about any special projects you're looking forward to.

A: I have written a book about my experiences with grief and loss, which I think would help people. I'd like to have it published. A co-worker and I (who I found out is a distant cousin) have joined our talents and are making greeting cards using my photos and her sentiment. We are in the process of finding a market for our cards.

Q: Good luck with that! I know you'll do well, your photos are gorgeous! Moving to another topic, can you talk about your experiences with self-publishing your work?

A: My daughter asked me to compile a book of my poetry for her, so in 2000 I spent several months working on it and made a dozen copies for family and friends. I had them spiral bound at Staples. I didn't actually go through a company or publisher to do this. I did it on my own.

Q: What do you do when the Muse takes the day off? If you're feeling stuck in the muck or just uninspired, how do you re-charge your creative batteries?

A: I love nature and solitude. I have to have it or I'm no good to anyone. All I need to do is take a walk in the woods with my binoculars or camera and catch a glimpse of a warbler or hear it sing; this helps me to reconnect with the Creator. I also enjoy sitting by a campfire and staring into the flames. There's something soothing about it. I just let my mind empty out and relax. I guess you could say that nature is my therapy!

Photo © Pat Conway

Q: Can you talk a little about the healing power of creative work? I know you've faced some tough times and I greatly admire your strength and grace in the presence of sorrow. How does your work help you to persevere through dark times?

A: Writing and the passing of time has probably helped me more than anything in times of grief. At the age of ten, my best friend died from a gunshot wound to the head. I remember that my family didn't know what to do to help me get through this terrible time in my young life. I closed myself off, and wouldn't go anywhere or do anything but play instrumental music on the stereo. I started writing poetry at that time. Through subsequent losses; my first child, my husband, dear friends, and family members, my poetry has come forth. Some of my best poems were written out of grief and recovery from it.

Q: What is your greatest source of inspiration and joy?

A: My greatest source of inspiration and joy are my children. They love me unconditionally.

Q: What makes you giggle, shine, and glow inside?

A: A good stiff drink! Seriously... when I accomplish something that is successful, people like it and I know I have done my best.

Q: What is your favorite guilty pleasure? How do you spoil yourself?

A: Getting off by myself where nobody knows where I am and the phone isn't ringing. At this time in my life I am mainly responsible for my parents welfare . They are in assisted living, but I manage their financial affairs, health needs, and care for their property, plus my own house and a job. Sometimes, I spoil myself by sleeping in and turning the phone off or reading a good book.

Q: If you could travel back in time to visit your thirteen year old self, what advice would you give her?

A: Treat everyone you meet with respect because you never know when you may run into them again down the road of life. (Like you, Molly!) Cherish and nurture your friendships. Help someone every day. Live a life of integrity. Take time to have fun and enjoy what makes you happy, be flexible, and always have a plan B.

Photo © Pat Conway

Q: What keeps your creative juices flowing? How do you stay inspired, fresh, and full of fabulous ideas?

A: I carry a small notebook with me. If something amuses me or stirs me I jot it down to use later. I did this when my kids were little and they get such a kick out of reading about themselves now.

Q: How do your spiritual beliefs inform your work?

A: My spiritual beliefs are interwoven in my poetry and prose. I believe in God.

Q: Who forms your support system? Many creative souls would be lost without the help and support of family, friends, and other artists. This is your chance to give those special people who make it all possible a shout out!

A: My family has been very supportive of my writing — my children, Ellie and Patrick, my two sisters, Kathy and Jane, and my Aunt Naomi. Friends from Alaska, Karen & Bob, Ginger, Iris, my writer's group, and my co-workers. It would take a whole sheet of paper to list the friends and family who have encouraged me over the years to do something with my poetry. They have all cheered me on over the years. Kudos to them all!

Q: Describe a typical day at work, so our readers can really get a feel for how you craft your day.

A: A typical day at the library is busy! I am the interlibrary loan librarian for our public library. If a patron needs a book that we don't have, I find it for them on our Pennsylvania database. Sometimes it takes a larger search of the whole country. I also answer the phone, wait on patrons at the front desk, help people with internet questions, shelve books, manage the vertical file and 101 other tasks that might come up. No two days are the same at a library. It is always a challenge. Our library web site is: www.rmalib.com.

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