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An Interview with Mary Anne Radmacher

Interviewed by Mina Parker

Can you tell me about your new book PROMISES TO MYSELF?

Making promises to myself, in my personal writing practice, has been important to me all my life. In practical application it is so much easier for me to make promises to others, and keep them, than it is to make promises to myself. “Why is that?” and the answer I gave myself is that in making promises to others I create a model of accountability and reinforcement. I duplicate that in my writing and have grown increasingly better at making and keeping promises to myself.

The book grew out of the conviction that gentle reminders and support was needed to reinforcement. It’s simple format serves as a brief reminder of the depth and sweep of promises in our lives. With a foundation of personal promise keeping…all the promises in a person’s world are more attainable.

Tell me, if you’re up for it, a story from your childhood that explains who you are as a writer or person?

A fenced backyard, a tool shed with an attic that served as a writing room, a tree that gave access to the whole world if I climbed it over the fence, a neighbor’s wild garden bending over the fence on “my side” that gave abundant access to lilacs and grapes and….I wrote and used story to make sense of the world around me and within me.

I spent a lot of time by myself as a childhood, and the world of words provided ample fodder for creativity and company. I had adventures that unfolded in my mind as remarkable stories. I wrote my first poem in second grade. I created an interactive role-playing courtroom drama in fourth grade. At each level of school I was blessed with supportive teachers who nurtured the gift of expression.

Who are your heroes?

Exposed as a teenager to the concept of a Board of Directors I imagine my set of heroes serving as my own personal council. The positions have changed over the years but consistent among them are Eleanor Roosevelt, Marcus Aurelius, Bill Clinton, Madeleine L’Engle, Paul Theroux, Pete (my Labrador retriever of childhood), Judah (my Labrador retriever of adulthood). I don’t know their life story as well as these others but Anita Roddick and Martha Stewart have both inspired me in their stalwart commitment to their vision – in spite of extraordinary opposition to their being such strong women.
I have always read biography heavily and found the greatest models for success exist in the stories of people who lead impacting lives.

What is your shortest short-term goal and your longest long-term goal?

By the very nature of the question the answer would change daily. Right now it’s to climb and conquer the mountain of administrative requirements that have rock piled in the most recent pursuit of creative endeavors. Long-term? To be healthier and stronger thirty years from now than I am right now.

What advice do you have for people trying to expand their creative lives?

Transition from saying, “I don’t know how to do this?” to “Let me see how I might figure out how to do this?” Discovery is one of the most magical elements in creation. Creation of anything. Most people don’t grasp how much they actually know until they give themselves permission to explore, without fear of “doing it wrong.” There is little failure in actual creativity. And if there is failure – I would say it occurs when one fears even trying.

What are you up to next?

I continue to teach my trademark writing process, Focus Phrase™ along with three phraseologists whom I have trained.

I’ll be appearing in New York and Vermont in June and details can be found on the Conari web site and my Amazon author site. My next book LIVE WITH INTENTION will release this fall through Conari. I speak the second Thursday of every month with Steve Maraboli on A really, really cool product will release through my partners at Demdaco this summer. Under my product line of BOLD INSPIRATIONS they are sets of interactive blocks that you can PLAY with and build walls and structures of beauty and words…or fit them into beautifully designed cubbies and feature them on shelves or walls. You can check with Dr. Deanna Davis at Applied Insight for events in the coming year at which I will be appearing as instructor or faculty. Those are the things that come to mind right now.

Oh! I should tell you. Nearly every morning for the last nine months I have read a single reflection in your book 365 EXCUSE ME. Using your book in this way has been like having a funny and kind coach encouraging me to be mindful of where I place my thoughts in the day before me. Thank you for writing such a supportive and honestly nurturing book. It’s been a great companion on my morning welcome to each day.