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Creative Arts Day Speaker

Tui Snider

Tui Snider is an award-winning author, photographer, musician, and speaker who specializes in quirky, haunted, and downright bizarre destinations. As she puts it: "I used to write fiction. But then, I moved to Texas!"

Snider's writing and photography has been featured vy a variety of publications including Coast to Coast AM, FOX Travel News, LifeHack, Sky Europe, easyJet, the City of Plano and more.

Snider's award winning books inspired by the Lone Star state include Paranormal Texas, The Lynching of the Santa Claus Bank Robber, and Unexpected Texas. In 2016, she served as the writer and photographer in residence for Tarleton State University's Langdon Review and is currently teaching classes based on her books at Texas Christian University.

Tui has several new books in progress, including Messages from the Dead: A Field Guide to Cemetery Symbols, as well as book about the Great Texas Airship Mystery of 1897. She enjoys connecting with readers all over th world through her website. and @TuiSnider on Twitter.

Guest Commentary

Years ago, I visited the doctor to discuss a lingering cough. From the start of the exam, however, it felt as if we were discussing more than just my health.

“This cough of yours,” the doctor began, “is it productive?”

“Actually, it’s a total slacker!” (Yes, I said, “slacker.” Did I mention this was the 90s?)

As the exam progressed, I added that I sometimes got a sharp pain when breathing in.

“Ah!” the doctor exclaimed earnestly, bobbing his head up and down as if he heard this all the time. “You feel pain upon inspiration.”

“Pain upon inspiration?”

“Inspiration is medical lingo for breathing in,” he explained. “Expiration is breathing out, and,” he added with a laugh, “I’m sure you know what it means to expire.”

For days after our appointment, “pain upon inspiration” tumbled through my brain. Something about that little phrase snagged me in a way I couldn't’t explain. I found myself doodling those words on napkins and notepads like a cryptic mantra.

I often hear creative people speak of inspiration as something fleeting and unpredictable, like a rare bird you might glimpse in your backyard. Back then, I felt the same way. I thought of inspiration as a ckle thing that came and went, a lucky lightning strike that either carried your creative projects from start to nish or abandoned you completely.

After that doctor’s appointment, however, my relationship to creativity changed in a very freeing way. If inspiration simply meant “breathing in,” then not only was it a natural and mandatory act keeping our creative selves alive, but it was also something we could control.

Rather than thinking of inspiration as something that either happened to me or did not, I now thought of it as a process I either participated in or did not. I no longer needed to nervously wait for inspiration to show up. Instead, I needed to show up so that inspiration could occur. All this time it wasn't’t inspiration being fickle, it was me!

Just as there’s a rhythm to our breathing, there’s a rhythm to our creativity, and this new perspective played right into that. The next time I sat down to write a song, for instance, I took a moment to figuratively breathe in. I slowed down and took in my surroundings, observing all the thoughts and feelings swirling around in my head, the scenery out the window, even the sensations in my body. Suddenly, out of that big tangled mess, a sparkling little idea appeared, an idea that I gleefully chased down the page.

It’s a great feeling when one word leads to another and you can barely keep up, but it doesn't’t last forever. At some point, after all, you need to breathe out. This is nothing to worry about. It’s just part of your creative rhythm. When this happens, either take a break, or turn once more to your surroundings. What do you see right here? What do you feel right now? These are your creative gifts. This is your inspiration.