Julia Fierro

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Posted 5.16.14

"Inspiration surfaces when I work with my hands. I garden. I rake until my arms ache. I tug ivy vines and roots rise with explosions of dirt, and with them, a revelation about my novel-in-progress rises in my silent labor-occupied mind. I knit baby blanket after baby blanket, the click-clacking of the knitting needles a metronome keeping time with my thoughts. As a child, I kept my mind busy with books and television. I read in math class. At the dinner table. On the school bus. My parents believed TV was educational and so the set was on all day. These mind-occupying distractions provided a respite from the what ifs that cycled through my mind—the irrational fears that accompany the obsessive-compulsive disorder I’d be diagnosed with as an adult. Writing became a delicious diversion only because it afforded the ultimate escape from my relentless worries—“the trance.” Now, as a mother, writer, and workshop director, it’s challenging to find quiet time, but busy-ness is how we obsessives survive. I’ve spent most of my life seeking distraction to escape the silent mind, but it is necessary to a writer’s vision. I have to work, literally, to accept the quietude my writer’s mind craves. Gardening. Knitting. Cleaning up my children’s Legos. Vacuuming—the whirr of the motor meditative. Even scrubbing the kitchen sink divulges. The mystery of a character’s motivation is revealed, and I drop the sponge and run to my desk to jot down a few notes."
Julia Fierro, author of Cutting Teeth (St. Martin’s Press, 2014)