How Might Awe Inspire Our Creative Process?
Emerging Form interviews author Florence Williams
“The more we are open to awe and beauty, the more we benefit from curiosity, feeling a part of the world around us.” —Florence Williams
Preview: Episode 81 The Power of Awe
“So much of creativity is just noticing the world,” says Florence Williams, author of The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative , an Audible best seller. In this episode of Emerging Form, Williams shares some of the science on openness, awe and the sense of self, and how that relates to our creative practices. We also talk about her most recent book on the science of healing from heartbreak, and how she didn’t follow the advice “It’s easier to write from the scar than the wound.” As she says, “That is a nice idea, but I had the urgency to want to find out what was going on.” It’s an episode that invites the head, the heart and the unselved soul.
Florence Williams is a science journalist, author, podcaster and speaker. Her book BREASTS: A Natural and Unnatural History won the LA Times Book Prize in 2013, and her new book, Heartbreak: A Personal and Scientific Journey, now just out in paperback, is nominated for this year's PEN/Wilson Award for Literary Science Writing. She’s won two Gracie awards for podcasts based on her books, and she often writes for audio as well as print. She also leads workshops and retreats on topics ranging from narrative writing to the importance of finding awe and healing in nature.
What We’re Reading and Listening to:
One of the most healing, powerful, simple, alchemical songs for healing is “I Am Sending You Light” by Melanie DeMore, and in this performance of it, DeMore and pianist Julie Wolf seem to transmit the most astonishing light, love, and healing—for a couple years, this has been a go to for me. If you are struggling, or know someone who is, this song is for you.
Do you love Dolly Parton, too? I LOVE Dolly, and now there is an entire book of poems in honor of Dolly—Let Me Say This: A Dolly Parton Anthology, edited by Julie E. Bloemeke and Dustin Brookshire. It honors her talents as singer, actress, comedian, businesswoman and philanthropist. She is an American champion, and I love this collection of contemporary American poets celebrating her.
For all who love mountains, biking and poetry, they come together in the most synergistic way in Albert Flynn DeSilver’s new book Singletrack Mind: Finding Wisdom & the Poetry of Life on Two Wheels. In this brief and beautiful book of prose and poems, Albert Flynn DeSilver brings us poetry and prose about meeting the world on two wheels. He writes, "To follow a feral trail is to become primal, to become animal once again." And in this book, he explores the intelligent being, the heart-flung-open-wide being and the animal being that knows only to discover what is here. An invitation to fall in love with the world—whether you're on your bike or in your armchair.
I just read Taylor Jenkins Reid’s novel Carrie Soto is Back, and it was a fun read. The book is about a fictional tennis star who decides to make a comeback as her records are on the verge of falling. It’s an interesting exploration of legacy and why people strive to excel. I didn’t much care for Carrie at the start of the book, but her relationship with her Dad was interesting and she is redeemed by the end as she grows and becomes a better person as she matures as an athlete. The tennis scenes were super fun and made me want to pick up a racket.
I loved my friend Rhitu Chatterjee’s recent NPR piece about living in “toddler time.” It’s about parenthood and time perception and just a very sweet and tender story.
A Note About Paid Subscriptions:
First, we want to thank ALL our subscribers! We are so grateful you join us in this conversation about what it is to engage with yourself, the world and others in a creative way. And a BIG thank you to our paid subscribers. You make this podcast possible. Starting this month, only our paid subscribers will receive our bonus episodes as a thank you for their financial support.
This week, we speak with Florence Williams about different kinds of stuck, the sweaty palm test, and how heartbreak can open your creative practice. If you are not yet a paid subscriber, you can go now to our website, EmergingForm.substack.com or by clicking the button below. Thank you!
(share your answers with us here on Substack or in our FB group)
How does awe inform your creative practice?
Let’s say there are 3 kinds of stuck. What are they? Give them names.
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