Today’s featured guest is Melissa Goslin. Melissa is a freelance writer and former newspaper columnist. Her work has appeared in magazines and publications across the country. She holds an MFA from Louisiana State University and an MPhil from the University of Cambridge. She currently lives in Louisiana with her two children, Finnegan and Chloe.
What is one of your favorite quotes?
There is a huge wooden sign hanging over the meditation couch in my writing space that has a quote from Erma Bombeck painted on it in beautiful letters: When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say “I used everything you gave me.” I use it as a mantra.
Of course, I have to mention the “deepest fear” quote from Marianne Williamson. The first time I read, “It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us,” I sat down and cried, wept really. And I am not a crier.
What is one book that has inspired you?
Immediately my mind went searching for a title that would make me sound super smart and spiritual. If I’m honest, NATIVE SON by Richard Wright was the first book to inspire me, not in an angels-from-heaven sort of way, though. In fact, it was almost the opposite. Although I couldn’t have articulated it then, when Bigger Thomas threw that cast iron skillet, I learned that writers had the power to illuminate the absolute darkest places in this world with a pen light. I was hooked.
Do you have a favorite flavor of ice-cream?
Doesn’t everyone? I’ve been a peanut butter and chocolate girl since birth. It may well have been the only constant in my life.
If you were a super hero what would your name and super power be?
My kids dream up the best super powers for themselves! I, on the other hand, long to be Neat-o, with the power to clean and organize things with my mind. I’m a Virgo, what can I say?
Melissa, can you share a bit of your creative story with us?
My first memories are of writing. I would put together little construction paper books bound with ribbon, most of them sweet-looking stories about Halloween shenanigans. Even at age six I was interested in exploring the shadow side of things. I wrote my first poem at that age. My grandfather kept a small tablet by his chair and we would add stanzas each time I came over. More than once I feigned illness so my mom would drop me there for the day so I could dictate lines to him as he scribbled them down with my grandmother’s worn-down crossword pencils. It was an epic poem about a princess who fell and broke her ankle at a ball. The injury was a blessing, really. Instead of dancing with the prince, she wound up stumbling onto a crime taking place in the kitchen.
The rest of my personal story has been about getting back to that space where it was okay to let my imagination run wild, to write with confidence and conviction. I’m extremely sensitive, and I was taught by the world to toughen up, whatever that means. For me, that message translated into a putting aside my passions to do what I thought the world expected of me. Except you can’t put passions aside; they stay deep inside you, burning and bubbling like lava. For years, I denied those passions but I still worked as a writer and editor, writing everything from corporate narratives to marketing campaigns. I published academic and feature articles. To the outside world, I may have seemed like I was doing what I loved, what I was meant to do. But I knew differently. I felt the calling, the gentle tug in another direction. Instead of answering, I tried to drown it out with the noise of everyday life—preschool drop-off, snack calendars, weekly department meetings.
Finally, my life erupted. I got sick. Not long after my divorce, I developed hemiplegic migraines, a rare neurological condition that presents like a stroke. Meditation and creativity were literally prescribed for me by the amazing doctors at Duke University. For two years, I walked in circles unable to complete a sentence, but I could write. Any time I attempted to write down steps for acquiring a satellite—I had been the lead technical writer for a government contractor when my first episode struck—my brain would misfire. Under the magnolia tree in my backyard, using the kids’ art supplies, I wrote about the things I had been ignoring, and my brain cooled off. Creativity is not optional in my life. When I feel a migraine coming on, I start tearing paper, pushing paint around, gluing one thing onto another thing. Those small acts save me over and over again.
What are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on a memoir. It was a struggle just to admit that to myself, much less other people. It all goes back to the Marianne Williamson quote: Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? I’d spent so much of my career writing articles for or about other people for that very reason. Although I’ve paid the bills through words for over twenty years now, I still struggled to believe I had something worthy of saying, a barbaric yawp to sound. The work I’m doing right now is terrifyingly exhilarating, a lot like motherhood.
What tip would you give readers to help them nurture their Creative Spirit?
Go with it. Honestly, that’ all I’ve got. The creative path is a lot like the dancefloor in Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean video. The blocks light up one at a time, and it’s your job to just keep moving. Trust that the Great Choreographer in the Sky has a plan!
Where can readers learn more about you and your work?
Since my focus has changed dramatically, I recently took down most of my old work. I did leave a few older articles on my site melissagoslin.com, mostly profiles of people who had inspired me. I feel like they’re helping me hold that space for what’s coming.
Join us next week on "Living In Creative Spirit" for an inspiring look into the work of artist, Chris Zydel.
“Living In Creative Spirit,” is an online interview series featuring creative individuals who blend spirituality and creativity in their lives and work. Summer session interviews are published weekly on Monday at 12:00 CT. This series is presented by Unity Arts Ministry, a non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization dedicated to inspiring personal growth, healing and transformation through spiritual enrichment and creative expression.
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