Showing Up in the Struggle

How creative practice invites us to find the best of ourselves when things feel worst

Determination! You can do it! Though sometimes creative practice feels almost impossible, the struggle is an essential part of the practice.

Preview: Episode 43 with Rosemerry & Christie on Struggle

What do you do when you’re struggling with your creative endeavors? In this episode, Christie and Rosemerry talk about extreme stuckness. We talk about going back to the beginning, the importance of community and partners, clarifying what’s at stake, how our creative struggles relate to our life struggles, and how sometimes the best answer is to ask questions.

What We’re Reading and Listening to:


  • One of our listeners recently shared with me a link to actor/director Ethan Hawke’s TED Talk, Give Yourself Permission to Be Creative. Ten minutes of incredible inspiration to be yourself, to be a fool, to sing our song, tell our story, start a dialogue with the rest of the world.

  • I’m loving the website Gwarlingo, “a place where creative people can connect, explore, and share challenges, ideas, and resources.” They have poetry, performances, reviews, music, interviews and much more.  


  • I absolutely loved Alison Bechdel’s new graphic memoir, The Secret to Superhuman Strength. The semi-sadistic seven minute workout was especially relatable.

  • Who knew that depression could be funny? Binnie Kirshenbaum, that’s who. Her latest novel, Rabbits for Food, is a humorous story about a writer’s descent into depression. Kirshenbaum’s protagonist ends up in a mental institution, and she chronicles the event with wit and a sharp eye for the absurdities of modern life. (h/t Nicola Twilley)

  • I have always loved statistician Andrew Gelman's "Garden of Forking Paths" term for the problem with researcher degrees of freedom and multiple comparisons. I finally read the Jorge Luis Borges short story it's named after and it feels even more fitting and descriptive now. Borges’s story features a mysterious labyrinth in which all possible outcomes exist simultaneously. The story is only a few pages long, yet contains multitudes. My friend Dave Epstein sent me down the Borges rabbit hole, and I am still working my way through several anthologies of the Argentine writer and poet’s work.

Walking up the Fall Creek Road, 2021

I see my old self walking down.
She doesn’t have a mask in her pocket.
She doesn’t move to walk six feet away.
She leans in to hug me, as if it were the most natural,
ordinary thing to do. She looks offended
when I offer her an elbow.
She doesn’t yet know how a virus
will use genome origami to infect and replicate
inside host cells with terrible efficiency. 
She doesn’t know the schools will close
and the stores will close and the streets will close
and the doors will close and it will all happen
in a week. She doesn’t know her daughter
will cry herself to sleep each night for weeks.
She doesn’t know her son will slip
into a darkness and rage she will try to carry.
How the days of her calendar will empty.
How pixilated her life will become.
How the hospital won’t let visitors in.
How she will miss her mother, her father, her friends.
How millions and millions will die. 
And that’s just the health of it.
Part of me wants to tell her what’s coming.
I don’t.
Part of me wants to hug her back,
and I can’t quite explain why I do.
Because innocence.
Because she will be here soon. 

—Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer (to hear Rosemerry read this poem and others about our ongoing relationship with the pandemic, become a subscriber and listen to the bonus episode)

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. If you are not yet a paid subscriber, you can go now to our website, or by clicking the button below. Thank you!

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Two Questions:

(share your answers with us here on Substack or in our FB group)

  1. Describe a recent creative struggle.

  2. What advice do you give yourself when you’re struggling in a creative project?