Making A Book
I am so grateful to be writing. The process helps me to make sense of the world and make sense of my life. Making books is my passion, long on effort and at times, exhausting -- but always with a sense of love and appreciation that I live the writing life. August 24th is the publication date for my new book, Creatrix Rising, Unlocking the Power of Midlife Women, and here's the story of how this book came to be . . .
Before we dive into your new book, “Creatrix Rising,” can you briefly tell us about yourself and why you decided to write about aging? Why is this book so important to you personally?
I’ve been writing about aging for several years now. At first it was because, well, I was getting older and writing has always been a way for me to understand and examine my interior life. But as I wrote about the process, the good, the bad and the ugly, I began to realize that aging is really a woman’s issue. Yes, men get older too, but without the same kind of baggage. Unlike my mother’s generation who saw aging in an almost shameful kind of way, feedback from my readers showed me that today’s woman isn’t particularly interested in going gently into that goodnight.
“Creatrix Rising: Unlocking the Power of Midlife Women” is an invitation to embrace a new archetype, the Creatrix, that celebrates the creative surge, confidence and power that comes with midlife.
What is this emerging Creatrix archetype, and where did it come from?
The name Creatrix comes from the three Greek fates, the spinner, the weaver and the cutter. The weaver was called Creatrix, a word that literally means a woman who makes things. The concept of an emerging archetype is a bold but necessary one — Creatrix replaces the Crone, a word that means disagreeable old woman. No one wants that title. We want to be seen as valuable, contributing and creative women as we age. Let us be seen as a Creatrix.
Who will enjoy this book, and what do you hope they take away from it?
Although this is a book written for women, men who wish to deepen their understanding of the women that they love will benefit from it too. The Creatrix archetype is what follows the mother archetype. Creatrix represents women who are discovering the reinvention and awakening of life that comes in the phase after motherhood.
Why do you think midlife women are sometimes characterized as the “old crone?” Why does it seem like women are shamed as they age, but men are treated as more distinguished as they get older?
The poet and novelist Robert Graves came up with the trilogy of maiden, mother and crone in the 1930s. He saw women as his poetic muse. His labels seeped into the culture and was adopted by neo-paganism, who referred to the trilogy as the triple goddess, assigning each phase with a phase of the moon.
Crone is a word that makes most women bristle. It entered the lexicon in the 1300s and was meant as an insult. Words matter. We don’t need to reclaim this one and try to dress it up, we need to replace it. Our worth and our value in society is contingent upon how we see and feel about ourselves. Correcting the worn out and oft times toxic stereotyping of women is an inside job — it begins with us.
How can we correct this mischaracterization and change the conversation about women and aging?
We begin by embracing our years and seeing aging as the next great adventure. Self-knowledge reveals all things. If we look honestly at our lives and innumerate the positives of age instead of listing the negatives, we can begin to change. It has to start with us first. As we mature in confidence and strength then the world begins to take note and society can then change.
Some women actually fear getting older. How did you personally learn to celebrate aging?
I start by saying “thank you,” every morning when I wake. Gratitude is a good platform for any change. There’s so much to enjoy and appreciate about aging — maturity, reflectiveness, contemplation. There’s a reason that nature keeps us alive after midlife. No longer necessary for the proliferation of the species, our purpose now becomes more internal, focused on the horizon where the veil floats between life and death. All of life and its cycles is astounding and remarkable. Let yourself be curious. Let yourself be awed. Let yourself appreciate the joy of breathing, walking, feeling… Let yourself practice thankfulness.
How does your book incorporate stories from women in your family? Why was it important for you to share their stories?
We can’t know ourselves, without knowing the women who came before us. My mother, grandmother and great-grandmother are all in my DNA. They all had struggles and celebrations, and each of them in their own way passed a light onto me that represents my ideals and ideas about being a woman. This is true in every family. Feminist history isn’t just something that happens outside of ourselves; it is alive in ourselves and in our families.
Which well-known women who embody the Creatrix archetype?
Ruth Bader-Ginsberg comes to mind as do Meryl Streep, Twyla Tharp, Stacey Abrams, Jennifer Aniston — and these are just a few. All around us, women are shining and thriving in the arts, in business and in leadership. And, of course, I have to put Vice President Kamala Harris on this list, who embodies the Creatrix with her strength, vision, courage and grace.
How does “Creatrix Rising” build on the concepts you wrote about in “A Delightful Little Book on Aging?” Was your approach to writing this book different? How so?
“Creatrix Rising” is an expansion on my thoughts about aging that began in “A Delightful Little Book on Aging,” but this time, beginning with midlife. There is a huge inner shift and right of passage for women at midlife. As for my approach to writing the book — it’s the same, I try to tell my story with as much honesty as I can so that it is relatable to the hearts of others.
How do you uplift women in your local community in Austin, Texas?
I went to Naropa University to study writing and poetics. It was there that I was given the opportunity to do community outreach with my writing. My first outreach was teaching poetry to girls in a group home. I fell in love with the idea of teaching creative writing to marginalized groups that might not otherwise have the luxury or opportunity to take a creative writing class. I’ve taught writing in assisted living facilities, group homes and in jails. Here, in Austin I recently taught a class for Dress for Success. I love helping women find their story. Re-writing the ending to your life is a theme that I like to start with, and I have loved working with the clients at Dress for Success, Austin.
Some say age is but a number, but it often feels like more than that. Why is it that age holds such significance to us?
Age is more than just a number. It’s a badge of honor to have lived long enough to know that the life in front of us is far shorter than the life we’ve already lived. To that end, these years seem more precious, more miraculous and certainly more deserving of our very best selves.
for Creatrix Rising, Unlocking the Power of Midlife Women:
“The disparity between the cultural perception of midlife women and how women actually see themselves has opened the door for a new archetype, the Creatrix. In her new book on the theme of positive aging, Creatrix Rising, Stephanie Raffelock offers a reimagining of midlife as the most powerful and creative time in a woman’s life, celebrating her strengths and redefining her beauty. This is a book that shifts the paradigm of what’s possible as women age and ushers in a much-needed cultural transformation that benefits everyone.” -Joan Borysenko, PhD, New York Times best-selling author and founding partner of Mind/Body Health Sciences, LLC
“The perfect topic at the perfect time, Stephanie Raffelock’s self-help memoir, Creatrix Rising, identifies a new archetype, the Creatrix, that transcends the old archetype of Crone. Her stories and insights about how far women have come is nothing short of inspirational. A must-read for any woman who wants to embrace the strength and creativity of midlife.” -Marci Shimoff, #1 New York Times best-selling author of Happy for No Reason and Chicken Soup for the Women’s Soul
“Poetic and philosophical, Creatrix Rising will inspire readers to claim the courage and confidence that already lives inside of them. An intimate story of transformation, of journeying through life on your own terms without apology.” -Richard Blanco, 2013 Presidential Inaugural Poet and author of How to Love a Country
“The new archetype Stephanie Raffelock assigns to midlife women underscores the assets and wisdom older women bring to our culture and to the greater good. Creatrix Rising is an affirmation and celebration of the feminine story taking place in leadership and creativity throughout our country.” -Gabby Reese, volleyball legend, Nike’s first female spokeswoman, and New York Times best-selling author
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