"Are we going to the ice cream store?" my goddaughter asked.
"Nope," I said. "It's Take Your Daughter to Work Day."
She sighed. "I wish you worked in an ice cream store."
If Take Your (God)daughter to Work Day were held in any other month of the year, six-year-old Amy would be watching me laze about in sweatpants, updating my MySpace and Facebook pages. But it's pub week and so she accompanied me to KINK FM for an interview with Sheila Hamilton.
I was late picking Amy up. Her mother informed me that had I been on time, the child would've been dressed normally. However, given the additional ten minutes, Amy decided to wear a curler on the back of her head. Not to style her hair, but because, well, that's just Amy.
Once, when she couldn't decide what to wear to the Daddy / Daughter Dance, she layered four dresses and took one off every half hour.
It's impossible to spend even the shortest time with Amy and not be impressed by her outpouring of creative energy. She literally vibrates with it. She's already written dozens of books, a few of which are so startlingly original they're close to publishable. In Amy's world, the plastic seal on a water bottle becomes a mobile, while drawings are hung on the ceiling so she can see them when she wakes up. Something as simple as walking down the street becomes a creative act, a piece of choreography.
"Here's a song I wrote," she said as we drove:
You better watch out,
You better not cry,
You better not pout,
I'm telling you why...
Oh yeah? I don't wanna know why.
Everyone at KINK made Amy feel welcome. "Would you like a glass of water?" Sheila asked. "Or a hot chocolate?"
"I'll take a cup of coffee," Amy said.
As she sipped her hot chocolate oh-so-quietly, we taped the interview. But the moment we finished, Amy broke out the markers to draw pictures of a fairy and a flamingo; which is what happens when you let small children hang around gay men.
She worked feverishly, unaware of her surroundings. Watching her, I was reminded of Twyla Tharp's The Creative Habit, which is the best book on the creative process I've read since Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way, a book I previously wrote about for Powell's and which I recommend so often I deserve a commission. But, whereas Cameron's book is for blocked creatives, Tharp offers advice for the working artist. "The blank space can be humbling," she writes. "But I've faced it my whole professional life. It's my job. It's also my calling. Bottom line: Filling the empty space constitutes my identity."
It's this spirit that fuels Amy and which motivates me not only to write, but to engage in my nutball quest to do something new every day for a year. Like her, I need constant inspiration.
As we walked back to the car, Amy asked, "Uncle Marc, what do you think I should do when I grow up?"
"That's a huge decision," I said. "What do you want to do?"
She bit her lip as she chewed on the idea. "I think I want to do what you do."
What she doesn't realize is that she already does.