Book Review: Of Mess and Moxie

I’m reading a lot of books on creativity as I immerse myself in the topic of my current work in progress, a book about working creativity into our everyday life. I picked up this book for a break from the topic, only to discover Of Mess and Moxie: Wrangling Delight Out of This Wild and Glorious Life included a chapter on creativity, Chapter 10: Makers and Dreamers. It turns out, it was my favorite chapter. While I occasionally laughed out loud at the humor in the “How To” lists, and loved author Jen Hatmaker’s unique voice and style of writing, it turns out Chapter 10 was exactly what I needed to read today. From page 94:

“Don’t we want our lives to be lovely and creative and productive and meaningful? Don’t we want to offer exquisite, sacred things to the world?” 

Yes, and yes.

“This draw toward creation is important, worthy of our time and attention and nurture. We have these magnificent minds and hands and ideas and visions, and they beg us to pay attention, give them permission, give them life.”

“I sincerely believe we are created by a Creator to be creative. This is part of His image we bear, this bringing forth of beauty, life, newness. This bears out in one thousand different ways: we write, sculpt, paint, speak, dance, craft, film, design, photograph, draw, bring order, beautify, garden, innovate, produce, cook, invent, fashion, sing, compose, imagine. It looks like art, it looks like music, it looks like community, it looks like splendor. The thing in you that wants to make something beautiful? It is holy.”

Oh, yes.

Hatmaker goes on to say that creating takes time and hard work, and the time isn’t just going to magically appear.

“I am here to tell you with certainty: if you wait until you have a natural margin to create, you will go to the grave empty-handed…

…If you are waiting for someone to beg you to do the work or promise to give you a huge paycheck or rearrange your schedule to clear the time or somehow make this whole part easier, you might as well take your little dream for a long drive into the country and say goodbye. Creators create.”

This uncomfortable truth is why I bring this photo with me to the writing workshops I teach.

baby on back

Because, inevitably, there will be someone in the room who bemoans their lack of time for writing, using that truth (because we all lack time) as an excuse for not writing.

“Art requires time, which of course, you have none of. This is the creator’s dilemma. You will not miraculously produce by carrying on exactly like you are. It’s a whole thing, and you have to make room for it.” (page 96)

You can read more about Jen Hatmaker and her books (yes, she has more, and I’m going to read them all) at 


Book Review: The Story Cure

“Once you are done writing your book, you aren’t really done writing your book.

Yes, I understand. Being reminded of just how much effort is required ever after you’ve put a period on the final sentence of the final chapter can be downright discouraging.

Revision does take effort and time.” (page 143)

story cure

Dinty Moore’s advice in The Story Cure: A Book Doctor’s Pain-Free Guide to Finishing Your Novel or Memoir is right on target. In this collection of cures for writer’s block, plotting and characterization issues, and other ailments writers face when completing a novel or memoir, Moore, the director of creative writing at Ohio University, has detailed answers with examples of good writing from other author’s books.

Whether you write fiction or memoir, you need to be able to tell a story, and this book is a must-read for anyone struggling with writer’s block, problems with their plot or story line, or simply inspiration.

 “Don’t look back ten years from now, however, and think ‘Oh well, I never found the time for my writing. That’s a real disappointment.’ Suppose you had devoted a mere one hour per week to your book over those ten years. That would amount to 520 hours. What could you have written in that time?

Even better, you’ll likely find that the one hour per week stretches into two, or three, or more. Once your heart story, the primal question driving your project comes alive, you’ll want to continue writing. You’ll find the time.” (page 159)

I’d love to take a workshop from this author someday. I’ve always enjoyed reading his essays on writing, and now I’m going to look for more books by him.

I received a free copy of this book from Blogging for Books for a fair and honest review. I’ll be sharing it with some memoir writers I know.