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The Muse A-Fairian Interviews: Coreena McBurnie, Writing with Chocolate and Crowns

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Coreena McBurnie
Writer, Reader and Creative Adventurer
Kamloops, BC

Coreena and her children reading their published Nanowrimo books

About Coreena:

When Coreena was nine months old her mom gave her a picture book which showed a baby getting out of its crib.  That was it, she never stayed in her crib again and a love affair with books, a source of information and entertainment, was born.  Over the last few years, she has allowed her Muse to emerge and has learned to recognize the creative process in her everyday life, to feel empowered by it, and to take time for it.  One of the ways she does this is through writing.  For three years, she has not only participated in the National Novel Writing Month, she has been instrumental in helping many young people participate as well.  At the Muse A-Fair, Coreena will showcase Nanowrimo and provide a space for unfettered, enthusiastic, fun, fly by the seat of your pants writing.

What projects you are currently working on?
I am getting ready to participate in my third year of National Novel Writing Month where the goal is to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November.
Also, I am almost done editing my first Nano novel from two years ago.  It is a middle school fantasy called The Prophesy of Ilverzah.

What helps you to show up to your creative projects?
I have a writing buddy (yes, you Janet)!!!  This has been amazing for me to get things done.  Every (most every) morning, I call her at 9:30 in the morning, set the timer for 20 minutes, then get writing or editing – 20 minutes is such a non threatening amount of time.  After 20 minutes I call her back and debrief.  This is such a supportive, gentle way to write.  After 20 minutes, I am often eager to keep going, but in the back of my mind, I know if I only ever do the 20 minutes, I have still done something.  This is also a great way to celebrate the baby steps.  Sometimes all I can do in 20 minutes is edit one page or get my notes organized.  These are all important steps, but are often overlooked as part of the process.

Also, I am part of a very informal writing group.  We meet most weeks for coffee and talk about our projects, brainstorm and do writing exercises.  It is so much fun to meet with this great group of writers.

Then there is the threat of deadlines.  I think that is why Nanowrimo works so well for me.  There is a crazy deadline which makes me work crazy hard.

The last one is chocolate.  I often wonder if Nano was picked to be in November because it is the day after Hallowe’en.  I get through November by raiding my kid’s Hallowe’en chocolate.

Any quirky secrets/ rituals/ silly thoughts that help you show up to your creativity?
Often, showing up for me means getting some quiet time and keeping my kids busy.  This quite frequently involves playdates and movies.  I think the first year I did Nanowrimo, my daughter, who was not yet in school, watched Alladin every day.  I found that I can usually write 1000 words in the space of one Disney movie.
The next one is a bit embarrassing.  I have this crown that I put on last year when I was writing.  It got me into writing mode and was a signal for my kids to leave me alone unless there was an emergency.

When you create do you ever wonder ‘who did that?’
Yes.  In fact when I reread my last Nano novel, I could not even remember writing some of it.  I was on the edge of my seat wondering how certain issues would get resolved!  It was the strangest feeling.

Was there a moment or event that you can remember that triggered knowing you are a creative person?
Taking your Muse class was very powerful for me.  I think I always knew I had something creative in me, but taking this course made me realize I could make it a priority and explore it in a fun, non threatening way.

I suspect you have an inner critic… how do you pay attention and move past that nagging little brat?
Again, this is another reason I like Nanowrimo.  The goal is not to write a good 50,000 word novel, just to write a 50,000 word novel.  You should see some of the terrible things I write in November (or maybe not…).  This crazy deadline shifts the focus from quality to quantity.  Whenever I worried about writing a good novel, I barely got started.  I ask my inner critic brat to go on vacation for one month and let it know it can come back in December.  This works for me, I already have 2 novels written and plan to have a third by the end of November.  Sure, they were bad, but they were done and gave me something to edit.  Editing makes a novel good.

Do you easily consider yourself an artist/ writer/ chef/healer (etc)? or if that’s hard for you, please share any thoughts around this.
This is definitely hard for me.  I haven’t sold anything, I haven’t even sent off anything to a publisher yet.  But my thoughts are changing just because I show up to my writing most days.  I am making writing a priority in my life and am ever so slowly changing how I think about being a writer and what a writer is.  Does publishing matter?  Or is my enjoyment of it enough?

Do you know what you’ll be showing at the Muse A-fair.. or are you still percolating? Or procrastinating? Or planning to go crazy on a deadline? Or all of the above?
I plan on showcasing writing and National Novel Writing Month – and I get to share a table with the creative Melanie Van Mol, who is also going to participate in Nanowrimo this year.  She has read me some of her work and I love her writing, it is so sensitive and beautiful.  I would love for people to share their writing with us at our table.  We may even have a book corner for kids.  The Muse A-Fair takes place 3 days after Nanowrimo ends, so we might be a bit frazzled, but we will plan something fun.

Thanks so much, Janet, for having me on your blog today.  It was fun.

And thank you, Coreena… I’m gonna get me a crown….

Coreena’s links:
Blog:  Books & Other Creative Adventures
Facebook: Books & Other Creative Adventures

About Janet

Author and artist with a tall ship and mystical twist, Certified Professional Life Coach (ICA), Master Creativity Coach (KMCC), Curator/owner of Writerly Kits, workshop leader and creativity group facilitator trainer. Author: 'Beyond All Imaginings'- a magical memoir. (on Amazon, if you are keen, or contact me for a signed copy) Outdoor enthusiast and Tall Ship sailor. Been through breast cancer and found her own tools of play, lightness, creativity, nature, thinking differently and visualization assisted healing through and after treatments. Ever ever so grateful for all the wondrous people she is surrounded by.

2 responses »

  1. My crown is head phones, the kind that completely cover your ears, with disco and house music playing. That way the kids know I am on the dance floor in my head and even if they do come and interupt me, I just look at them blankly and get all groovey.They think Im wierd!They may be right, but it works for me!
    Coreena, you inspire me to write!!!


  2. Thanks Una, I would love to read what you write!! And thanks Janet for having me on your blog. It’s fun and scary at the same time!



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