Carla Rieger got my attention in her keynote address right from the beginning. She smiled a lot and radiated energy and zest for life. And then she started telling her story.
She was the daughter of an elderly man who had been very successful in business but became a recluse as he aged. So much so that he kept everything, refused to see anyone and told his daughter nothing of his past lives. Yes, I mean lives. When he died Carla found a box all taped up which she decided to open rather than just throw in the dumpster with the mountains of other stuff she had to clear out of his house.
In the box she found many clues to her father’s past and decided to search out more. She found she was descended from the Roma people, that her father had changed his name several times to escape the world of Nazi Germany and the post-war hate of anything German. Her story was, in fact, so incredible that eventually she wrote and self-published it. The Change Artist is the result.
I so enjoyed Carla’s upbeat presentation that I had to have her book. It was good. The story was amazing. Unfortunately, a little more editing would have pleased me. Still, I recommend this read.
In Carla’s address she talked about the connection between putting her creative project aside and bad things in her life versus working on it and life flowing well again. I can relate to that with my novel. When I ignore it for a time, I feel restless and vaguely unhappy. As soon as I get back at the writing, my sunny spirit soars.
Carla used the word switchover to suggest that we need to put aside negative-I-can’t-do-it thoughts and focus on the positive. Switchover to things and thoughts which have positive value and life will be so much more rewarding. That seemed to be a focus at this conference.
Inside each of us is a committee; we need to get that committee going for us. We need big creative goals and we need to put our committee to work on them. What a great thought. If our creative goal is too boring, it will bore our committee, i.e. our mind cells.
How can we up our game, then? Can we make our goals more exciting and powerful? Carla says we must each give ourselves permission to be in the world as an artist. And she related a story about water from her Roma past. What would water do, she said, to get over the hurdles? Well, it would go around them. I thought about this in relation to my book. I will go around the hurdles.
Another problem we have is not believing in ourselves and letting the gremlins sabotage our great plans. She watches herself on video and she can see that she is a good speaker. This gives her confidence and banishes the bad thoughts. I could relate to those bad thoughts. Have you ever lain awake at three in the morning and thought about your problems? Those gremlins jump up and down on your bed and totally take over your mind. I have resolved to have a list of my accomplishments ready for the next time that happens. Thanks for that, Carla.
Finally, Carla left us with this interesting thought: that her Roma forefathers do not trust the written word because it keeps people in the past. Instead they embrace change. Of course it is much easier to change if the rules aren’t written down, isn’t it? I guess we writers and lovers of the written word will have to think on that idea, but I loved the novelty of the thought. Read the book and find what I found–a unique look at a time about which truckloads have been written.