July 8, 2014

Art in her Life - An Interview with Emily P. Freeman

I am trying to recall when or where I first became obsessed fell in love with Emily Freeman... and I mean that in the most non-creepy, mostly non-stalkerish way, of course!
Adorable, right?                                      

It may have been over at Incourage.me on the blog where I first read her share about being a bench, or it could have been in her own space over at Chatting at the Sky for my favorite (semi)monthly link up of "What I Learned..." - a random list of useful and not-so-useful things that we have discovered through out a month.  Either way, I fell for her Realness... her Grace... her Quirky sense of humor and of course - God love the lists! The way she hooks us up with books and music and all sorts of lovely!

I am co-leading an Incourager Community Group this summer called #ArtinYourLife and much of what we wanted to cover in our gatherings can be found in her book, A Million Little Ways where the subtitle is "Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live." Um, yes please!  So - because I had the awkward fangirl chance to meet Emily briefly last year at Allume, I was volunteered to contact her and see if she would be willing to play along with answering some questions from the ladies in our Group.

Emily was then, and is now, full of grace and she agreed to let us ask away! So below are the questions that some of our members had for her. These are things that you just may be wondering about as well, and I am thrilled and honored to have her Grace and Wisdom offered up here for us all!


Making Art in Your Life:

Q - Do you intentionally set aside time to create art on a regular basis?

A - I see the word art as a very broad word, probably more so than most people. I define art as whatever comes out when you are being most fully yourself. Art is what happens when we dare to move toward what makes us come alive.

But if you want to get specific, one kind of art I make is writing and yes, I write on a regular basis. I used to think I had to wait until I felt inspired, but the reality of deadlines and such has made it so that inspiration is a luxury but not a necessity for art. It's definitely easier to create when I feel inspired, but I like to think I've matured in my writing enough to know the importance of writing anyway even when it's hard, falls flat, or is unusable.


Q - Who are your writing inspirations?

A - I admire the work of N.D. Wilson, Madeleine L'Engle, G.K. Chesterton, Brennan Manning, John O'Donohue, Natalie Goldberg, and Henri Nouwen.

Q - What are you reading right now?

A - The Transforming Power of Prayer: Deepening Your Friendship With God by James Houston
The Antelope in the Living Room: The Real Story of Two People Sharing One Life  by Melanie Shankle
The Seven Storey Mountain: An Autobiography of Faith by Thomas Merton
The Accidental Creative: How to be Brilliant at a Moment's Notice byTodd Henry
Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen

I always have too many books going at once.

Q - When you write, do you like to have complete silence or a little background noise?

A - Depends on what I'm writing - usually I like background music. Mostly instrumental (The Pride and Prejudice soundtrack is lovely for this). I actually wrote a post about using music to inspire your writing with lots of examples of music I write to.

But when I really need to think hard or figure something out, I need silence all the way.

Q - How did you get over your fear of pitching your first book to a publisher?

A - Are you kidding? I didn't get over the fear! It was terrifying. One of the most nerve-wracking things I've ever done was to prepare a book proposal, take it to a writing conference, and pitch it to an editor. 

But I honestly came to a point where not doing it was more scary than doing it. 

Q - What are the pros & cons of having an agent, vs. self-publishing?

A - Well I've never self-published so I can't really speak to that. I have traditionally published books with an agent as well as without one. And I can say that in my experience, I prefer having an agent. With my first two books, I wasn't yet sure I wanted to write more than that so in a way, I'm not sure I was ready for an agent. But by the time I knew I wanted to write A Million Little Ways, I didn't want to do it on my own again.

Having an agent has been such a gift to me - she is in my corner, asks for things I don't even know to ask for, and thinks not in terms of what my next book is necessarily but more in the big picture of my career as a whole. I appreciate that about her.

Balancing Real Life:

Q - How do you handle it when your heart's desire is to create (write, be artful, etc.), but life gets overwhelming and you start to feel stymied or stuck? (Some times I feel like someone in your shoes does NOT go through this!)

A - This actually happens to me all the time. There is never a perfect time to create. If you think people who write books or create art on a regular basis have more time than other people, then you may always be waiting for the time to show up in buckets or tiny fairies to visit with magical time dust. 

But it isn't going to happen that way and I've found in my own life the only way to combat the tension between wanting to create and being overwhelmed with my life is to accept that things probably aren't going to change.

A cabin in the woods will not appear to me. The clock will not stop for days at a time to give me a chance to think. No one will show up with a laptop and a hotel room and give me the space I need to create. I have to fight for that. 

Sometimes when I say that, I'm aware of the person who might be thinking, well that's nice but I have responsibilities I have to take care of and don't have time to play around with art-making or dream-chasing. 

I understand that perspective, but on the flip side, why do we always assume we have to choose between the art and the responsibilities? What if there was a way to weave the art-making into our everyday lives? What if we saw prioritizing the art as a way to bless and serve others rather than as something selfish or personal? 

What if becoming more fully alive was one of our responsibilities? And what if creating was a major part of that? Would it change how we managed our time? 

Just something to think about :)

Q - What can you tell us about the Hope*ologie project that you've started with you sister and dad - I'm so curious to hear more about that.

Ah, Hope*ologie!! We are so excited about this new family adventure. Here's how it began:

So my sister is also a writer (she goes by The Nester online and recently published her first book with Zondervan) - she encourages women that our homes don't have to be perfect to be beautiful.

Our dad has had a blog longer than my sister or I have and also has 30 years experience in radio. A big part of his story is that he is a 25 year sober alcoholic, a man who (in his own words) "should have died but didn't with a wife who should have left but stayed." If anyone knows the importance of grace and forgiveness in families, it's him.

And then there's me. I'm ever curious about what's happening beneath the surface - I write to create a little space for souls to breathe.

The three of us have always felt like our collective passions overlapped with one another in some way even though we all talk about different things - home, family, and soul. We brainstormed ways we could combine our voices in one message with three distinct voices - that's when Hope*ologie was born.

Basically, Hope*ologie is a membership site for anyone who needs a little hope and perspective in the areas of life where we are most often discouraged: home, family, and soul. Each month we have a different theme (past themes include Rest, Hospitality, Goals, and Imperfection). 

Members receive a new collection each month - some combination of podcasts, printables, orginal essays, questions for reflection, videos, DIYs and some silliness thrown in. It's fun for us to create content for the Hope*ologists and try to find creative ways to encourage hope.

Q - I remember reading about a Retreat of sorts out “At The Barn”… are you planning on doing that again?

A - Yes! Absolutely. My sister is renovating the barn on her property in Charlotte, NC as we speak to prepare for the fall where we plan to have another barn event based on my book, A Million Little Ways. She will also host events designed especially for her Nesting Place readers and we'll team up to have gatherings for the Hope*ologie community. 

Good things to come!

Emily Freeman is a best-selling author and advocate for an art-filled life. She writes at Chatting At the Sky as well as hope*ology—with her sister (the Nester!) and their father. Emily is deeply curious about the mystery of Christ, the gracefulness of the everyday, and the sacredness of our inner lives. Everything she writes or speaks about comes from this curiosity and the deep conviction that every need, desire, and expectation is met in the person of Jesus Christ. 

I know.   You love her too now, right?  Here's a tip - subscribe to her newsletter! You won't be sorry!

Thanks again, Emily! 
Now Let's All Go Make Art!


  1. So great to hear from Emily here, Karrilee. Such good encouragement and wisdom. Thank you both! xoxo

    1. Ashley - she is pretty amazing, right? We can talk about all thing Emily over lunch - maybe on a bench - in August! <3 Love you, girlie!

  2. Anonymous10:46 AM

    Love this! I just finished Emily's book A Million Little Ways and I'm still in awe of all the wonder and goodness in her words. Thank you for this interview! Loved it! Mary

    1. Mary - that book is one to revisit every once in awhile... so much goodness in there! Thanks so much for stopping by!

  3. Anonymous11:51 AM

    I love Emily's encouragement to weave art into your everyday. So much of my in-the-moment creativity revolves around thoughts that pop into my head because of a life lived.

    1. I love that Missy... "in-the-moment creativity" - so much of life can be that, if we are open to it! So thankful for Emily's words to read and to hold on to as a reminder of this! Thanks so much for stopping in! <3

  4. Karrilee ... LOVED this conversation, 'cause I'm a big admirer of Emily's too ...


    1. Linda... just another thing we have in common! So thankful that you stop by for a visit around this little corner of the internet!

  5. Loved that I stumbled upon this today...not sure how I missed it earlier! I've also had the privilege of meeting Emily and she's as genuinely kind in person as she comes across in her writing. Her At the Barn event was a turning point in my life and afterwards I launched my blog to share the work God was doing in my life. I feel like that event was a divine appointment and still feel so grateful to have been a part! Thanks Karrilee for interviewing Emily and sharing her words with the rest of us!

    1. Oh LeeAnn... I wanted to be At the Barn so badly last year! My Honey and I flew cross country so I could attend Allume and then spent several extra days there and there was just no way! Now that I know they are planning more - this is planted (again) in my heart! LOVE that you go to go and that it made such an impact! So glad you happened upon us here!

    2. Are you coming to Allume again this year? I'd love to meet you in person. It'll be my first time attending. SO excited! I know God has big things in store.

    3. Oh LeeAnn - I will be there in my heart! ;) I don't think I can swing it this year but I would so love to! It is an amazing experience and I am so thrilled that you get to go!

  6. What a lovely interview! Thank you, Karrilee and Emily!

    1. Thanks for stopping by Jennifer! Emily is always lovely and ever grace filled! Love you, friend! I say the same thing about you!

  7. Ha, I love that you might be "slightly obsessed" with Emily... I spotted her near the elevators at Allume from the second floor and might have RUN down the stairs to beat the elevator so she could sign my copy of A Million Little Ways

    1. Julie! I love that! She actually sat at my table during her sisters' workshop and in trying NOT to go all Fan Girl on her, I was so indifferent! I was so glad to get a chance to talk with her (and explain that I didn't want to gush... ya know, while gushing!) and have her sign my books later on as well! She is a gem, for sure!


Thanks so much for stopping by! I always love to hear your thoughts! Remember to: Speak Life - Be Love - Shine On!

Blog Archive