Natalie Merchant on the Creative Life

I love paying attention to how other creative people operate, especially those who have created things I admire. Maile and I had the great fortune of going to see Natalie Merchant perform a year or two ago, and it’s my favorite concert I’ve ever been to.

Here’s how she answered the question, How did becoming a parent change your songwriting process? Did that make it easier or harder?

My technique was completely altered by motherhood. I don’t have huge expanses of creative time like I used to have. I would put myself in a self-induced trance for days, and it was blissful — just alpha waves humming. It was great. Now I feel like I have to make appointments with my muse to meet at 3 a.m. So much of this new record was written during stolen moments in the middle of the night, whenever I could get away. During the day, when I’m doing laundry or making dinner, I’m not humming melodies or writing down lines. I have to sit and focus on the process, but finding the time to do it is so difficult. I blew so much time before I became a mother. I could have written novels, with all the time I used to have. When I talk to friends who have creative lives and children, we commiserate about all the time we wasted in our youth. Now time is the most precious thing in my life.

To read her entire interview over at Salon, click HERE.

One Reply to “Natalie Merchant on the Creative Life”

  1. I got to see her at Lilith Fair! I have just dated myself!

    That sounds almost exactly like something the late, amazing Lucille Clifton said when asked why all of her poems were so short. She said that was as many lines as her brain could hold on a given day between taking care of kids.

Comments are closed.