Monday, March 1, 2010

Voted Most Creative: Interview with Author Deanna Burrell

Deanna Burrell is author of the self published work Voted Most Creative. She's currently writing a fiction book.

YLW: Why did you write Voted Most Creative?

DB: I wrote my book because I just felt like there was something missing in my life. I wasn't using enough of my creative side. I wanted to get into being more creative and exploring more and looking at my life. I'm in my 30s and my career has taken such a big focus in my life. I make time with family, I have a social life, but sometimes I don't spend enough time with myself.

YLW: You have a corporate day job, why did you want to explore your creative side?

DB: I found that I really do miss being creative. I used to do theater, I used to write and read all the time.

YLW: Why did you stop?

DB: I didn't stop completely, but I don't do it as much as I used to. You get into a pattern with your life, you pick a career. It's corporate America, and there's only so much creativity that you can have there. Just working every day took away my time and my energy.

YLW: There was a book called the Quarter Life Crisis that I write about a lot. In the book, they suggest that women feel unusual pressures in their 20s and 30s to be successful today. It's pressure coupled with self doubt that is compared to a midlife crisis. Did you experience a Quarterlife Crisis?

DB: Definitely. It's like a quarterlife trimester, not a life crisis. When you get to a certain point and you look back you ask 'Am I doing the things I thought I'd be doing? Am I happy? Could I be doing more? Should I switch gears? My friends and I have been working in our careers for 10 years. When you're in your mid 30s you're doing self evaluation. You say, I've got another 40 years to work, do I want to do this for another 40 years? Or is it time to do something else.

YLW: It reminds me of the movie 30 Years To Life. One character in the movie ditched his plush corporate job to become a model.

DB: There's a guy I know, he got a degree in engineering and did that for awhile, and decided to be a model. It happens.

YLW: Do you feel pressure to be a “superwoman?” Joan Morgan writes about black women and the superwoman complex in the U.S.

DB: Definitely. A lot of African American women do. My mother went to college. I'm second generation to go, a lot of African American women are first generation college grads. You're supposed to get good grades, go to school, get a job. You're supposed to have a family, raise a family, then you have all these responsibilities with the family you grew up with.

Sometimes it can be overwhelming, and you have to say I've done all I can do. But everyone has to find there own path.

YLW: How have people responded to your new creative endeavors?

DB: One reoccurring reaction was people saying 'I didn't know you liked to write.' People would say I knew you were creative, but I didn't know you liked to write. Then other reactions were very encouraging, especially people who've known me for a long time. They say I'm glad you're doing this .

YLW: Why is creative expression important in life?

DB: Expression is life. If you have an idea and it just sits dormant in your mind, you never share it, never develop it, or it never grows then there's no point in having the idea. Expression is a form of growth.

It goes back to our African ancestors, the need to express is a need to be in a community. That's how the community connected and felt strength. The talking drums, the dancing, that's part of community. It's definitely something that's been passed down, as it progresses the communication will take different forms and different shapes, but the needs is passed down.

YLW: You're an advocate of carving out time for creative expression.
DB: The thing about expression is that it can take so many different shapes. It doesn't have to be a book. It can be how you dress, your hairstyles. It can be as simple as how you do your fingernails. I know some people feel spiteful like they don't have opportunities and time to express themselves. Maybe you don't do it this years, but you do it next time. You can express yourself in a scrapbook, a collage, singing in a choir at church. People express themselves in so many different ways.
YLW: Opportunities to be a working artist have increased over the years.

DB: I think our generation are afforded many more choices. With my parents generation, you had to get a job. It was really frowned upon if you wanted to be an artist. But in our generation if you want to be a dancer or a singer, there are so many more avenues to pursue that. It's easier to pursue those non corporate jobs. I think its easier for our generation. The playing field is wider.

YLW: Tell me about your book?

My book isn't mainstream, it's a collection of poems and essays. It talks about a wide range of topics. I like the nontraditional. I don't like the cookie cutter.

It's in three categories, life, love and the pursuit of happiness. There's an essay in there about the day I went to the Chicago Marathon and all the lessons that I learned. I personally wouldn't be in one, because I don't feel the human body is built for that but I can cheer someone else on. There's an essay on how to embrace adversity, how that's really an opportunity for growth. There's a section on love. They're not love poems, but I talk about different facets of being in a loving relationship. With the Pursuit of Happiness, I have fun essays on swinging on the swings or putting Christmas lights on a tree.

YLW: How do you suggest that others embark on the creative life?

DB: I write about it in my foreward. Is something missing from your life? It's never too late to make a change. Start small and big changes will gradually occur. That's the thought I love to leave people with. It's never too late to make a change. You don't have to quit your job or move 5 states away. You can start small and keep building and building.

When you're doing something you know you should be doing, it just feels right. When I'm creating, when I'm writing, it just feels right. I know that this is something I should be doing. I feel I've found the thing that I'm good at.

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