Spin Creativity Book Club: Where Do You Hide?

Make Art with the Creativity Book

I just came back upstairs from my office. I worked upstairs in the kitchen today because of the sun. Sometimes it’s needed, and it’s scarce in the basement. I went down to get my twisty Crayola Crayons. I had to dig through a large pile of books and papers on the credenza (you could call it my dresser, if you want, but I prefer credenza since it’s supposed to be an office). They’re still in their original package and only used once. I bought them one morning when I was out of town and felt desperate to capture an image from a troubling dream I’d had the night before. The ballpoint pen and memo pad in the hotel desk just wouldn’t do it.

The dream had color. I needed color.

So I bought the twisty Crayolas. I like them. They’re long, like a colored pencil, and encased in plastic, so I don’t get the waxy crayon feeling on my fingertips that sometimes makes me want to drop an ordinary crayon. Each is made of a mix of colors. Blue and green, yellow and orange, violet and black, pink and plum. Depending on how the Crayola is held, the streak of color changes on the paper. The result is imprecise, unexpected, hard to control.

I don’t mind it. It’s rich in varied texture.

I’m using the twisties to color Claire Burge’s book, Spin: Taking Your Creativity to the Nth Degree. I don’t think she’ll object. In fact, right in Chapter 4, she says to doodle in and make art with the book. So that’s what I’m doing. I start by coloring in some of the illustrations. The words on page 21, and the sketch of Claire’s African mama, Margaret, on page 31.

Slow Down and Doodle Your Thoughts

Oftentimes it’s easy to read a thing straight through, and not think deeply about what is being read. The simple act of coloring the illustrations in Spin slows me down enough to think about the stories, ponder Claire’s questions. In one story, Claire shares how, in a time of fear and grief as a young child, she retreated to her cupboard.

I flee to my room. I am turning ’round and ’round, moving from my toy box to my bed then to my cupboard where I climb inside.

Margaret finds me there, pulls me out roughly. She is agitated, muttering in Zulu. I don’t understand what she’s saying, but many years later I come to understand that in Zulu culture you never take a child off her mother’s back when she is distressed. Never.

She bends down low again. I am mounted and safety-pinned in. She goes outside and finds things to do, many things that will keep her hips swinging. She sings low, mourning with me. I fall asleep and when I wake up, I am warm against the heat of her body.

Find a Place to Hide and Nurture Your Creativity

At the end of Chapter 6, she asks, “Where did you hide as a child?”

I roll a twisty Crayola between my fingers while I consider the question, drawing shapes on an open space on the page. I see myself, a bashful, self-conscious child, hiding under the kitchen table with an Oreo cookie while my mom and a friend share coffee over my head. I see myself in the Airplane Tree, a place of solace and retreat in the woods partway down my old neighborhood street.

spin creativity book doodles

On the page I’m drawing a small child outside an open closet, and I remember the “monster” game I played with my older siblings. It usually ended, by design, with me being captured and jailed (I was the monster) in a closet (like Claire’s cupboard). Most times, I nodded off to sleep, quite content in my captivity. The image I doodled? Two-year old monster-me being set free from the closet, and mad as hell (or making it look that way), an image drawn from a photograph I carry in my wallet.

As I grew older, I sought the consolation and security of the closet voluntarily, often going in with a flashlight and book or curling up on a pile of blankets for an undisturbed nap on long afternoons. Claire says that “creativity needs a place to kick off its shoes.” While I’d never have taken my shoes off (the photo attests to that), I’ll agree that the security of a hideout can give one the space needed to nurture imaginative thought.

Discuss Your Creativity Process with Us

We’re reading Claire Burge’s new release Spin: Taking Your Creativity to the Nth Degree together this month. Are you reading along? Claire shares delightful, tender stories about her childhood, followed with questions activities related to finding a place of security, about cherished experiences of the unfamiliar, about dreamlike experiences, about issues of emotions and social justice.

What activities did you explore? Did you find roots of your own creativity in your childhood experience?

Review the “9 Lies I was Told and Believed About Creatives” (Chapter 10). Choose one or two that you’ve been told — do you believe it, or did you once?

What did you do on the pages of Spin to make the book your own? Perhaps you’ll share your thoughts with us in the comments, or link to a post you’ve written at your own site.

Spin-Taking Your Creativity to the Nth Degree

Join us for the full discussion of Spin: Taking Your Creativity to the Nth Degree

November 6: Where Do You Hide? (ch. 1-10)
November 13: Chapters 11-20
November 20: Chapters 21-30
November 27: Chapters 31-39

Cover photo by Claire Burge, Creative Commons license via Flickr. Illustrations by Brian Dixon. Post by Lyla Willingham Lindquist.


spin creativity book cup

Buy Spin: Taking Your Creativity to the Nth Degree now and join us for our book club discussion

Spin—An Illustrated Print Edition, Journal Sized, $19.95

Spin—An Illustrated PDF Edition, $11.99


  1. says


    My waxy fingertips, hard
    to control, streak the paper

    the way the sun wouldn’t:
    twisty, desperate, imprecise.

    I don’t want to mind the result.
    The unexpected is so scarce

    and troubling. The simple
    act of fear slows me. Questions

    start with a doodle in plum,
    a sketch in ordinary black,

    a dream that sometimes is
    not easy to read in a mix

    of orange and violet. Dig in
    to the stories, open the space

    in the woods to see the monster
    retreat, to ponder the color

    of the grief of the child held
    long and mourning with me.

    • says

      Maureen, this poem needs a cup of tea. So many layers to it.

      One line in particular stands out to me:

      “I don’t want to mind the result”

      Where in the journey do you think we start minding?

      Why do we start minding?

      • says

        I think we start minding at a very young age, at that moment when we first ask ourselves to judge what we’ve done or made, to explain it to justify it, or ask another to do so, or are made to share what breaks us.

        The why is in every individual story.

        As I wrote in a comment on Nancy’s post, the child in us never forgets; the adult spends a lifetime trying to.

        • says


          it’s true that we never really forget.
          We are that child. So we can not forget. The heart of us… is that heart. Everything that is good about us is in that heart. And that child heart knows…even though this continually gets shoved to the side.

    • says

      Always intrigued once Maureen twists my words, and even moreso now that they are mixed with Claire’s.

      I was drawn to that same line: “I don’t want to mind the result.”

  2. says

    How fortunate a reader is to find at the beginning of this book not theories on creativity or case studies or cognitive science as to how the brain is hotwired for creating, but instead find a real person. It’s a delight to be on the same journey as Claire is as she comes to know her creative mien; it’s not pragmatic, it’s organic. She, like all of us creative sojourners, enter into the creative universe cautious and not at all confident of our skills; she, like us, finds her way to creativity not by reading theories, but by reading our own thoughts, and doodlling — always doodling. This brain-mapping if you will helps to heighten our awareness, and in Spin, we can see Claire’s own ascention. And to illustrate this very salient point the book has several pages of doodles, if you will, charting the course ahead. Again, it’s entirely appropriate and organic: this is how Claire must have mapped out her own creative cartography. Brilliant. And it’s true, well it was for me, that creativity is often born and bred in solitude, as a child shielding itself from elements misunderstood and feared. The opening narrative of Margaret’s comfort and Claire’s own mother’s discomfort and illness lends itself so well to this idea. Creativity needs a safe place, because creativity is borne of affirmations both personal and universal. In other words, Claire’s opening gambit tells us that love begats love. Love is the lifeblood of creativity. I am so honored to be on this journey with Claire, and can’t thank her enough for her bravery and honesty.
    It took me years to realize my own creativity needed its own space. Introverted by nature, it still felt anti-social to spend so much time on my own, as a child and as an adult. But soon, I came to realize it was no so much a requirement, but an ingredient in my own creative mix; in solitude I could work and not be distracted, unafraid of my need from time to time to cry out loud, to get up from behind my desk and dance, and dance, and spin in a private revelry I hoped would be translated to the page.

    • says

      Anthony, your words, coming from a fellow author whom I deeply respect, mean a lot. Thank you.

      My deepest desire with this book was to unravel the stories hiding in all of us.

      I hoped that by being vulnerable to my own hurts, discomforts and awkwardness, I would give others the freedom to do so as well.

      Your words hint at this possibility and it makes me happier than I ever anticipated.

      What do you think it is about our creativity that makes us treat it as something very much removed from us, rather than an intimate part of ourselves that needs a lot of care and training? Or is it more a societal thing, than something specific to creativity?

      • says

        I think the turn away from creativity begins in early childhood education (or at least it was for me and my generation) and more toward replication (regurgitation), memory, and a heavy reliance on pragmatism, which is very American (pragmatism, in fact being founded by an American science fiction writer and carried on my people like William James)…

    • says

      And I think you’ve just put your finger on not only what makes this book such a powerful thing — that it is not structured in how-tos and theories, but in story.

      Which is also the very thing that left me puzzling as I tried to prepare this post. It’s easier for me to go to theories for discussion. Claire keeps pulling me back to story. :)

      I really like what you said, Anthony, about solitude and space not being so much a requirement but an ingredient. You know how to use it, but are not held captive to it.

      I think that’s really an important distinction.

  3. says

    Lyla, I scan read mostly but this piece had me from the word go and it’s not because it is my book, it’s because of your story unfolding on the page.

    I’m intrigued:

    Why do you think you were content to nod off to sleep (love that image btw) but then you came out in monster form? :)

    • says

      As much as I might kid my parents and siblings about the terribleness of this game, I think I actually didn’t mind it. I had a role, and I knew my role. :)

      Of course, my brother and sister were just annoyed at having me interfere in their play, so it was a means to get me out of the way, which I didn’t know. I suspect I just got bored waiting and dozed off. (I should point out that it was some time later before I understood how to operate a door knob, so I could not free myself. 😉 ) But when it was time to come back out, I was back in the role.

      This is my theory — but who knows? I was 2. And as my mom reminded me the other day, I don’t remember all these things the same way she does.

  4. Tania Runyan says

    Congratulations, Claire! I a looking forward to reading your book, but for now I will add my two cents about childhood creativity. I was a classic Gen-X latchkey kid, but starting quite young (too young, really). It wasn’t good to be alone for so many hours at a time, but as a result, I created in order to keep myself company: plays, stories, long, imaginary journeys in my backyard cruise ship. I used to tell stories into a tape recorder, play them back, and try to “edit” with quick pushes of the record button! Such bittersweet memories. So lonely, so not. . .

    • says

      I wonder (sharing some of this experience with you) if perhaps kids are over-attended now (to a certain degree out of necessity), and many miss out on the ways that such imposed solitude might create this dynamic.

      • Tania Runyan says

        Yes, I am certainly mixed about it. My parents didn’t really “play” with me, and I am fairly certain I am a writer and musician today because of all the solitude. That said, I still feel guilty when I don’t spend a lot of playtime with my own kids. It’s a balance, and I know my parents may have made some mistakes (and I may have suffered socially for it), but I wouldn’t want to have it any other way when all is said and done!

      • says

        Over-tended and over-entertained I think. They’re two extremes on the scale, both robbing the individual of the solitude required to develop a certain inner well from which they can draw later in life.

      • says

        Alright, I’m not one to tell people what they have to think about a book. But Tania, if you don’t like the black box story, I’m going to say you didn’t actually read it. 😉

        A favorite of all the stories. (And there are so many wonderful stories.)

    • says

      Thanks, Megan. :) It’s interesting, because my childhood stories are not the same as Claire’s, but reading her stories touched very similar places.

      Looking forward to the ongoing discussion here. :)

  5. says

    “Creativity needs a safe place. Creativity needs the unfamiliar. ”

    Those seem so contradictory yet here, among your words, among your life, Claire, I see clearly how the safe stretching places and the places stretching past safety bring forth a life full of life to the full.

    Hurray for the combination of words and art dancing a jig on the pages. I imagine I’ll learn a new dance step or two by being here in this place.

  6. says

    The power of story is gently and impressively in force in this work, Claire. I grow increasingly convinced of its amaze power to inspire, teach, stimulate and cause of to act. How beautiful you weave these stories rather than coming at us with bullet points and numbered points, with hot-to’s should’s and must’s. The formulaic approach is so dull so often. This has a life and breath of its own.
    I am so thrilled to be in its pages and among this bookclub. I clearly need to order my hardcopy as my kindle addition doesn’t lend itself to doodling. Bravo!! What a beautiful masterpiece you appear to have on your hands for all of us to savor and enjoy.

    • says

      Elizabeth I’m secretly hoping every person eventually orders a hard copy. My dream is that each book eventually looks totally different to the one they bought 😉

      And thank you, I certainly accept your high praise!

  7. says

    I’m beside myself with delight! I’ve been waiting and waiting, Claire. I’m going to order mine tonight. Loving this discussion. And I always love the thoughtful way Lyla tells a story. So much to love here.

  8. says

    Oh, the book hasn’t been delivered quite yet, and in some ways, I think it’s safer that way.

    Because I won’t mess it up.

    What if I color the images wrong? What if I can’t even draw a stickman, let alone an image of me hiding somewhere? What if I don’t even remember where I hid? What if I hid inside of my own self, but right in the middle of the room?

    This is a most uncomfortable topic for me; but, miss Claire, I trust ya with my wonky heart and off-beat notions and simplistic ways. Be gentle, aye? Although, I might take it better if you whacked me upside the head with some sort of “duh-doofus” insight.

    (By the way, miss Lyla, I had to look-up “credenza.” Isn’t this an interesting explanation of the word from which it derived?

    “credence table
    1. (Fine Arts & Visual Arts / Furniture) a small sideboard, originally one at which food was tasted for poison before serving
    2. (Christianity / Ecclesiastical Terms) Christianity a small table or ledge on which the bread, wine, etc., are placed before being consecrated in the Eucharist”

    Poison vs. sacrificial love.

    (I’ll take the thankful love.)

    Thank you, miss Claire and miss Lyla.


    • says

      D, maybe it will help you to know that some of the chapters were really hard to write because I had to reveal parts of myself that I don’t like or that I haven’t yet accepted.

      So if you feel it as a whack up the head, then know that it was that for me too 😉 If it’s gentle, then I am hoping that the book will know that is what you need right now.

      As Lyla points out … this book is more about *you* than about me.

      Can’t wait for you to experience it!

      Sending you a HUGE hug.

    • says

      Maureen thank you for posting the link to this article on contradictory traits. Sheesh, that explains a lot. Actually, I am so pleased to have had lots of opportunities lately to connect the dots on things which frankly seemed puzzling because they are just that, contradictory. Paradoxical.

      WHen it comes to introvert/extrovert I have just resorted to “cusp”. Thank you so much friend. This is the most succinct and well formulated explanation of the puzzling Rubic’s cube that is creatives. Present company included this side of the screen. That would be the side facing the screen. Or moi.

    • says

      that book of his is on my to do list :)

      i am currently working through “flow”.

      perhaps the bottom line with creative people is that the world needs to accept that we refuse to be boxed 😉

      c’mon, how long will it take the world to catch on to this?


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