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Jennie Nash Interview : Page 2 of 2

'True Genius' Author
Jennie Nash

continued from page 1

The Only True Genius in the Family by Jennie NashQ: It's easy for a writer to look at the superstars of the writing world and feel discouraged by their successes. How do you deal with these feelings, and avoid the envy trap?

A: Oh, well, I definitely don't avoid the envy trap. I fall into it head-first all the time: why did she get to go on Oprah, how come her book is reviewed in the Times, how can she afford such fabulous shoes, when will I get a 20-city tour? It sounds simplistic, but the only way to deal with these feelings is to write. When you're working, you don't have time to fret. The other thing I do is to re-read the lovely notes I have gotten from my own lovely readers; there's no better ego boost.

Q: Where do your ideas come from? Is there a fairy sprinkling pixie dust all over your keyboard? A Muse that lives in your studio? Do you feel that your stories originate within you, or are you channeling ideas from some source outside yourself?

A: I just try to pay attention to my world — to keep my antennae up and pay attention when something strikes me as true or curious or especially interesting. I get a lot of ideas from the newspaper and it crushes me to think that newspapers are shutting down in certain cities. I love blogs and Internet news and Twitter and all the rest of it, but there's nothing like opening the newspaper and seeing an offbeat story that grabs your attention. I also get a lot of ideas from listening to NPR. Terry Gross's show, Fresh Air, is amazing — such creative people, such fantastic ideas.

Q: How can parents and educators foster creativity in upcoming generations of future artists?

A: We have to remember that creativity necessarily involves failure. We have to make room for failure. Banging on the piano keys, splattering paint all over the garage, sewing a hideously misshapen dress — these are all good things, creatively speaking.

Q: What is the nature of genius? Is it a gift, bestowed upon a special few by an accident of birth? Or is it a gift that everyone possesses that can be accessed any time?

A: People are clearly born with various capacities and talents, but no matter what you bring to the table, you can't become a genius painter or musician or economist unless you are brought up to believe that these things matter. Being around people who value these activities is critical. Feeling a personal sense of permission to do the activities is even more important. It's not enough to have the raw material of genius; you have to commit to shaping the talent — and then you have to have good luck. So I think it's nature, it's nurture, and it's a lot of hard work and dedication.

Q: How can you best connect with and embrace your own true genius?

A: I think the key is to give yourself permission to do whatever it is you are called to do. Most of us know where our own true genius lies, but we shy away from it because we're taught to do what's safe or prudent or efficient instead. So if you feel really drawn to playing the guitar, you should play it. If you have always wanted to be a photographer, find a way to get a good camera. If you would love to be a painter, paint.

Q: Any final words of encouragement and inspiration for those that are struggling to make their artistic dreams come true?

A: Be patient with yourself. Elizabeth Gilbert (of Eat, Pray, Love fame) talks about self forgiveness, which amounts to the same thing. Don't beat yourself up that you have to have a day job, or that you can only paint on the weekends, or that you're not yet very good at writing dialogue. Be patient while you create, and gentle when you assess the results, and don't stop until you are satisfied. •

Connect with Jennie Nash

Jennie NashFor more information about Jennie's work or to find out what's happening in her world, please visit her websites and blogs online! You can connect with Jennie in cyberspace at:

For more information about Creativity Portal's "My Own True Genius" essay contest, please see this page for the winners list and to read their creativity essays. Congratulations to our winners, and thanks to all who entered!

© 2009 Molly J. Anderson-Childers

Molly Anderson-Childers is a a highly creative writer and artist from Durango, Colorado. More »