Spin: Taking Your Creativity to the Nth Degree: You Can Too

I don’t even know what the hey-diddle-diddle “Nth” means, but I bought Spin: Taking Your Creativity to the Nth Degree because I admire the author, Claire Burge. Truth be told, I wanted to see what sort of beauty she’d created for other people. You know—the artsy people who wander about museum halls in mystical awe, dab lips with folded linen whilst they sip wine in fancy restaurants, wave sheer scarves above the city hustle to hail taxicabs, travel the world, and sometimes even scuttle atop snowy crusts and yell “mush!” to their for-hire dogsled teams. People quite unlike me.

I’m a simple country girl who straps duct-tape across gashes in her insulated chore boots for three consecutive winters, wears her husband’s ratty 501 Levi jeans from high school and her brother in-law’s winter coat from junior high, cracks mornings well before dawn as she kindles a fire in a wood cookstove, hauls water by the bucketful, hangs laundry out year-round, and re-uses coffee grounds.

Artsy—uh, no.

Despite the odds, I joined the book club discussion of Spin: Taking Your Creativity to the Nth Degree—I thought it would be fun to add some country insight to the comment box, while I’d shake my head ever so slightly in the secrecy of my house at “the creativity people.”

Much to my delight (okay, there was a little dismay too), something in the first chapter flickered in my deep-downs, and by the last three words “So can you,” I was all in.

I often think of this when I journal and pen life lessons. I wonder what my children and grandchildren and possibly even their children will take away from these lessons that I’m learning right now. Will it help them connect their own selves, as fragments of their family history and lineage emerge before their eyes? Will it make them a little wiser? Spare them heartache or provide a way through? I’ll never know. But I can write it in the meantime. So can you. (Burge, Spin, p. 153)

What the heck? Ding-dong Darlene! This book is not about other people. It’s about you. Yes, you—flannel-clad country girl.

Through this story-laden, practical guidebook, Claire teaches. And I learn. Through the sparseness of the images (his self-described “eclectic scribbles”), illustrator Brian Dixon gave me room enough to see me. Together, they showed me that creativity is part of life. Everyone’s life.

I’ve decided not to look-up “Nth,” but instead to create my own definition, fed from my country girl interpretation of “Spin: Taking Your Creativity to the Nth Degree.”

Nth (as a noun) is not something to be measured, counted, quantified, or qualified; but, something to be recognized, appreciated, lived, and sometimes even shared. Nth (as a verb) is the process of recognizing that all the jagged, gleaming bits of your past, present, and future simultaneously fuel one’s creativity.

Yes sir, yes ma’am. I came to this book and this discussion group because I wanted to see what sort of beauty had been created for other people—instead I discovered my own creative worthiness between the covers and in the comment boxes.

Please join me on Pinterest where I’ve started a board called SPIN: Taking Your Creativity to the Nth Degree. I’m “coloring” the book’s thirty-nine chapters through images: pictures I’ve snapped and graphics I’ve created. Together we can spin through the chapters via our shared images. I hope we find not only inspiration, but our individual Nth degree.

Post and photo by Simply Darlene. Photo used with permission.

Follow the Spin: Taking Your Creativity to the Nth Degree book club

See a sample of Spin: Taking Your Creativity to the Nth Degree in our Poets & Writers Toolkit


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

    Darlene, thank you for the invitation. I am joining you on Pinterest, girl. Your words here are extraordinarily beautiful. This is a mini-memoir and I want to read more of you, your life, and your creative journey. Tell me when “you write the book” of you. I will be in line, in the front, to purchase it. You delight. Always. Everytime.

  2. says


    This is so much fun. You’ve lasso’ed me along for the ride …

    I’m especially happy that you found parts of you on those pages … because whether you like it or not, you answered the question on Facebook so you were very much on my mind when I wrote it 😉

  3. says

    One of the most extraordinary things here at TSP is watching as others discover their creative genes and find beauty where they never thought to look: inside.

    I hang out with a lot of artsy people, Darlene. I’m glad you’re one of them!

  4. says

    Darlene, I think it is an interesting journey for all of us to move past the surface—the things we think we are— to who we really are. I think you are more artsy than you think (and, as a country girl myself… I think “country” might mean something more than using language that looks country; I think there is deep-down soul-alive stuff that can be tapped in surprising ways).

    Anyhow, I prefer jeans to silks myself, so you are certainly in good clothing company 😉

    Delightful definition of Nth! I think it should go in Wikipedia :)

    • says

      Miss L.L. – if you ever make it to the PNW, you must come hang out with me for a day. We’ll bounce dirt roads, find a mountain lake, dangle feet off the truck tailgate, and drink homemade lemonade from an old milk jug.

      Glad to be in your company.


  5. says

    For you, Darlene:

    So Can You

    The comment “So can you.”
    flickered often before her,

    a flannel-clad country girl
    quite unlike the city people

    who sip fancy wine and wave
    folded linen as they hustle

    for their taxicabs and coffee.

    In secrecy she’d created this
    life of sheer beauty, not open

    to discussion of other people.

    Boots by the cookstove, in jeans
    ratty with duct-tape, she gave

    what was inside a way through.

    In a spare room of her own she
    kindles fragments of mornings

    between the covers of her story,
    laden with a history of winters

    not insulated from heartache,
    delight and dismay joined to

    the nth degree. Fed by the fuel
    of inspiration, she discovered

    what she doesn’t need to look
    up to see. Now she is gleaming,

    coloring in her journal all
    the pictures of her worthiness.

    So can you.

  6. says

    Have you ever stood on the outside of a celebration and looked through the windows at the joy, watching the discovery, like parents peeking around the banister as children open presents under a Christmas tree? I feel privileged to ‘drop in’ today to hear this discussion, and have teared up, too.
    Sooner or later I’ll burst through whatever-it-is-that’s holding me back from this ‘creativity thing.’ God keeps luring me with the simple truth of everyone’s words–I’m learning to believe this gift might be for me, too.
    (And Darlene, if LL ever shows up in the PNW, invite me over–Seattle’s only 5 hours away…).

    • says

      Miss Jody Lee – That’s just it, isn’t it? Creativity is a gift – and I reckon it’s our choice to unwrap it. Or not. Some are gonna rip ‘n tear the paper; others are gonna pick the tape edges and slide it out neat; some may even nudge it with their toe and slip it outta the bag when everyone’s left the room.

      I’m coming to realize that this creativity thing isn’t really a thing to behold, but a choice to be made.


  7. says

    I’m so bummed that I missed this study. And in the year when my one word was “creativity,” too. I’m making some changes, though, getting a better spin on how to live life as a creative–yes, I’m finally coming to recognize myself as one of those who can claim the call and nth the jagged, gleaming pieces of my journey. I’m such a late bloomer.

    Miss Darlene, you are a work of art, and I’m glad to hang off the tailgate of life with you.

    • says

      Miss Sandra – I’ve been called a real “piece of work,” but until today, never a “work of art.” Thank ye kindly!

      It’s not too late. Come on over to the board and add some images that speak the book to you. I know you have more than one… 😉


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