My Creativity SECRETS
By Travel Journalist/Playwright/Artist Sharon Baker
Every creative female has her Secrets. Don’t you?
Most of mine are darker and scarier than you’d ever guess. But surviving the terrible pandemic/lockdown launched this Light bulb moment: why keep all my creative secrets locked inside my Pandora’s Box?
So, dear Friends, read on.
THE CREATIVE TEEN, 1967
“Sharon is exceptionally creative,” my high school guidance counselor enthused. “Aren’t you so proud of her many accomplishments, Mrs. Spence?”
“She’s lead Soprano in choir,” my mother beamed. “And VP of Yearbook and Photo Clubs. You got mostly straight A’s, right hon?”
Mamma winced. “Except for that D in calculus…. But she’s going to be A Writer!!!! Did you know Sharon wrote the sweetest story about adopting our dog Hoodie?”
I wear my best Mona Lisa smile, staying oh so very silent.
How’d I adopt a puppy, you wonder? I was disobedient at age ten. Despite Mamma’s warning to “NEVER EVER LEAVE THE FRONT YARD”, I happily followed an energetic little beagle out my front yard, across the six- lane highway, uphill to the dangerous guns/drugs/hooker neighborhood and picked him right up.
A snarky teen in a green bikini and red stilettos (I would kill for) snarled, “He’s mine.” But I grabbed beagle’s tail.
“No,” I insisted. “Hoodie just wandered out of our house.” Before we started scratching each other’s eyes out, a shiny black police car arrived, flashing a beautiful cherry light.
“Your hysterical mother has sent out a countywide notice: a girl named Sharon ran away from home,” the police office said. “Would that be you, miss?
Bikini Babe ran away, sobbing.
“Meet my new puppy,” I declared triumphantly. “His name is Hoodie.”
That nice policeman smiled, and gave Hoodie and me a wonderful ride home. Mamma was sobbing at our front door.
First I got a butt smack. Then a bear hug. Mamma was so happy to see me not dead; she let me keep that naughty dog.
So I wrote a pack of lies story on “How I Rescued Hoodie”. That essay got me an A in English and a full ride scholarship to Northwestern University Journalism/Theatre in Chicago. Every Christmas I visited Hoodie, thanking him for keeping Our secret.
THE CREATIVE YOUNG WOMAN, 1980
Remember just starting your career? Of course you tell prospective employers everything you’re good at. Since I was masterful at making stuff up, I mailed resumes to 500 international magazines.
“I’m a brave, confidant, adventurous, globetrotting travel writer,” my cover letter lied. “To get a fantastic travel story, I’ll go anywhere, do anything.”
Over the next fifteen years, editors that had never been outside asked me to write about really scary things. Outside.
Imagine scaredy cat me kayaking with orca killer whales off Vancouver Island. Swimming with giant whale sharks off Cancun. Climbing to 15,000 feet in Peru. Riding Thai elephants in mosquito infested jungle. Wading Trinidad’s rivers teeming with boa constrictors. Diving with hungry hammerhead sharks off Palau.
The scariest? Freezing on a Polar Rover bus in icy Churchill Canada, whereupon a 12- foot snarling polar bear almost snatched me out the bus window for his lunch. My essay, “A Polar Bear in my Window” and my YouTube video, “Hey Mr. Polar Bear” were global sensations. But no one cared I was nearly devoured. Not one bit.
The more danger I was in, the more assignments I got. I would cry to my Editors how terrified I was, how I hated being cold, hot, lost, starving. Their response? “Good Sharon. Keep Writing.” Over fifteen years, I published 300 travel essays and 5 guidebooks.
I found out: Once you’re a creative liar, no one believes when you tell the Truth.
THE CREATIVE SENIOR CITIZEN
So now that I’m 68 years YOUNG, spending languid days with my golfer husband Kenny, my one eyed cat Sage, and a pack of fun loving gal pals, am I still creative?
No-I can easily while away a whole day watering flowers. Or Swiffering the entire house. Or ambling through a grocery store: should buy chicken fingers for our gourmet dinner or get take out from Chick Fil-A?
Yes-I’m writing comedy stage plays inspired by my global adventures and pitching theaters worldwide. I’m enjoying books by authors who have secrets waaaaaay darker and scarier than me.
The great part? Everything I write now can be a Big Fat Lie.
It’s called Fiction.
I’m just the same creative girl I always was.
© September, 2021
Sharon Baker writes happily in Bluffton, SC.
Her stage play comedy about the meaning of life, “Birthday Party at the Dalai Lama’s Palace,” was presented on ZOOM in 2020 by the Dramatists Guild of America. Some of it is True.
Email her: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sharon’s travel essays and books are on Google, under Sharon Spence Lieb.
Her 4 plays, under Sharon Baker, are on New Play Exchange.
Laugh over her YouTube polar bear music video, “Hey Mr. Polar Bear by Sharon Spence Lieb.”
She exhibits her wildlife paintings at Hilton Head Art League, South Carolina.