In this episode, Mira and I take a deep dive into the mechanics of the creative process. We discuss how she dove into creating a graphic memoir with no formal drawing experience, the methods she used to protect herself emotionally while creating a work that deals with painful conversations around race, and the challenges she faced when promoting her work as a woman and a person of color.
Key takeaways from this conversation:
- Why creating constraints for your project makes your creativity rise to the occasion
- How Mira taught herself how to draw & constructed a graphic language from scratch
- The challenges of self-promotion & confronting other people’s notions of how you should present your work
- The role of “creative ancestors” in carving a path for future work to get published
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“I feel like the more constraint I offer myself, the more the rest of me will rise up to meet the challenge. So, for example if I tie one hand behind my back, then the other hand is going to just get really, really creative.”
“There really was a kind of a rhythm, and a rule, and a method for everything that kept me in check as I was going, because I’d never drawn anything before. I’d never really drawn a book, I’d never really drawn anything more than a few pages, and I just feel like I needed the rules so that I could guide myself forward.”
“I didn’t get published until I was 40. If you have a story that you’re trying to get out there, if you have some creative work that you’re trying to do, keep doing it.”
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The references and ideas that we mention in this epi:
- Mira’s viral piece 37 Difficult Questions From My Mixed-Race Son
- Jeff Sheng’s photo essay on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”
- Longreads’ interview with Mira: “Imagine Us, Because We’re Here”
- Mira’s creative ancestors: Toni Morrison, Arundhati Roy, and Alexander Chee
- My new online course RESET, a cosmic tune-up for your workday
- Follow Mira at: Website | Twitter
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