The Creator's Compass
News from an upside down sideways author, and a little note on healing and creativity

News from an upside down sideways author, and a little note on healing and creativity

Taking a break from editing my novel with brush, paper, and color. I think I’ll title this little watercolor, The Author’s Critics.

Hello everyone. I am so happy that you are a part of The Creator’s Compass, a place where we explore how to live our lives with meaning and purpose by diving more deeply into what it actually takes to do so in real life. When we apply reason without denying the heart, our thoughts, ethics, and dreams begin to unify and we find peace and joy.

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Where have I been?

I went to visit my family who live far away from me. Being physically present to the ones we love is precious and, if taken for granted, we hurt ourselves. I suppose that is the single silver lining living a part from family—realizing the importance and preciousness of moments with loved ones. Although love is eternal, time doesn’t stop for our desire to forever touch and hold those we cherish.

Between morning talks with my Dad over coffee, lunch on the back porch with Mom as the mountains loom shadows over the lake in the distance, sister time, embracing the delights of being an aunt with all the fun and none of the mommy responsibility (shout out to my sister!), and dipping toes in a mountain lake, I stole tidbits of time to edit portions of my third novel. I found it odd to read my work away from home, as if the story was both familiar and new. I’d say, changing locations when editing is my newest lesson in the writing process. Below are a couple photos of my time visiting family.

(I never include photos of family and friends unless I get their permission, and I keep forgetting to ask! I hope in the near future I’ll obtain such permissions. And a lot of photos of me feels horribly close to narcissism!)

Back porch where we tend to gather and enjoy a drink or midday meal. Here, I’m always on the lookout for moose, fox, cougar, and deer.
My mom and I took a day and drove into the mountains where there was zero phone connectivity (we prayed no car issue would come up). The views were spectacular, this river being just one wonder of beauty.

As I continue to edit my novel at home, I vacillate between pride and despair. Oh, the tender human heart! Seemingly endless details interweave throughout a novel, boggling the writer’s mind (well, my mind) and I’m filled with a sense of awe that I accomplished such a feat. That is until, halfway through the second edit of the novel, I catch one of my character’s eyes shift from blue to green with a golden speck in the left eye. Okay, when did I decide such an important detail needed a complete change? I spin into fictional conversations when one of my characters decides to turn a corner I didn’t know existed, such as eye an color change. A conversation may go like this:

Me: “Hey, why didn’t you tell me you up and changed your eye color?”

Character: “I told you when you wrote it.”

Me: “But you gave me no warning. That’s crazy-making.”

Character: “Um, you’re the writer, so you must be the crazy-maker.”

Me: “You’re being mean. I created you, for goodness’ sake! Without me, you’d not be.”

Character: “You prove my point. I think you’re a bit out of your tree. Maybe take some Ginkgo biloba? I’ve been told it’s great for brain health. You obviously need something.”

Yes, writing fiction is a play with multiple personalities. The thing that separates a writer from a person called “crazy” is the degree to which one loses oneself in the play of personalities.

Anyway, I like to assume that, subconsciously, when I changed my character’s eye color, it was a plea for more fantastical elements in my story. That would not surprise me. My first two novels are mystical, brimming with the ethereal magic that quietly exists in the mundane. Both of these fantastical novels wait patiently in the wings for their time to shine as I polish this third ‘baby’ with apparent eye-changing magic. Though, I’m beginning to consider the first two aren’t waiting so patiently?

Is editing a novel terrible?

Editing is a task many authors abhor, but it’s a creative journey I enjoy. In the nuances of the sentences, I can wave my wand and turn or float or fly an idea closer to the feeling and image I hold in my mind’s eye of the character or scene. These images, only I will ever behold, are ideals of the story, and if I hit the mark, my written words merge closer and closer to my story’s ideals. To fly near an ideal, I must not allow too much tight thinking when I edit, for I’ll destroy the character and/or scene. Of course, if I’m too lax, there is no structure or coherence.

Life is always a balancing act, isn’t it?

Penning a story is much like drawing a bow across violin strings. The strings need to be taut — not too loose, not too tight. When my writing and editing strings are strung just right, the warm light of my story’s ideal hit the words and my heart blooms in satisfaction. There is always a hum in the soul when this happens. And, when the strings are loose, they produce no sound, and when they are rigid, my ears are assaulted with screechy, string-fraying noise.

Importantly, when the writing strings don’t have that perfect tautness, there is a tension around my solar plexus accompanied by a slight sour stomach, even if I work hard to deny it, which I often do, for laziness is an alluring siren.

Portals to self-compassion

In shining light on my writing process, I am in no way insinuating I’m an elite writer, but I am the only one who can create my stories and offer them to the world. No one else has the blueprint I was born with or the experiences I’ve accumulated throughout my life to hold my stories in their minds. But that’s the same for each of us. We all are unique with miraculous creative potential, primed and ready to present our gifts to the world. And I believe this embracing of our unique gifts, manifested by creative acts, can be a portal to self-compassion.

From my experience, when I create, I find an endless well of peace and joy. It soothes my parched throat with the elixir from the well of those sublime waters, and I find it infinitely easier to hold myself with compassion.

It seems immersing myself into waters of the sublime to create naturally awakens self-compassion, for I’m in a state of non-resistance, or relaxed clarity. Here, my mind is clear, more able to perceive truth without the fog of unsettling emotions, and within this bliss of relaxed clarity, I am able to reconnect to compassion for myself.

I’ve come to believe that when we create in a state of non-resistance, we connect to truth, which is from, and is of, Ultimate Truth—that singular all-pervading nature of reality. If you’ve followed me long enough, you know that from a Vajrayana Buddhist understanding, this singular truth I’m speaking of IS compassion and wisdom. And all, no matter age, gender, or circumstance, are equally a part of, and not separate from this truth.

I’d like to remind us that creativity calls to each of us differently. I write and illustrate. Your creativity could be a call to motherhood or fatherhood. Maybe your unique call is to farming, teaching, or entrepreneurship. The list is as endless as there are sentient beings. Whatever your call, it could be a magical portal, ushering you into a soothing and liberating blanket of self-compassion. The blanket of compassion heals wrecked nerves, those times you feel weary and unsure of your innate worth and in need of remembering how miraculous and wondrous you are.

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May all of us experience self-compassion so to allow us to taste the sweetness of our innate and sublime worth, healing our hearts of suffering. May all of us continue to deepen our realization of this, and hold our compass of compassion, not just for self, but for all beings.

Sending light and love,


The Creator's Compass
Explorations into the philosophy and practice of what is compassion and how to understand its depth beyond feel-good phrases that fly past us, yet never take root.
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Renee Faber