Thursday, July 12, 2007

Musings on Creativity

Twice this week, I have been confronted by the concept of my creative pursuits and the place they fill in my life. And as Stan might say, I learned something today.

To speak of my creativity as something outside of me, or separate from the greater "me" (or the Ego, if you will) is not accurate. What little creativity I possess--although in my kinder moments, I believe it to be rather sizeable in amount--is what integrates the three parts of my mind. It brings together all of my rather chaotic and noisy voices, gives them all something to do, gives them a group project, so to speak, and in many ways brings me to inner peace. To go all Freudian (because in this case, it's the only framework that fits, really,) my mind is made up of three parts: Super Ego (inner judge, aka Prudence), Ego (the me that sits behind my eyes and drives) and the Id (basic drives, glandular hey-nonny-nonny, aka Nimue.) Nimue starts it out by driving me nuts with daydreams and fantasies, visions that are compelling to me, thoughts that are mostly impure and always amusing. Slightly vulgar and half-formed, these ideas are sent to the fore-mind (aka, me) and I then ask Prudence what she thinks. She will clean up the grammar (she is my Grammar Nazi), spelling, figures out what it will take to bring those inner visions to light (including editing for content) and gives me the 'plan' for developing it in the outer world to show others. Nimue then pouts for a few minutes, revises, sends her edits back, and so on and so forth until I step in and actually put the plan into action.

For a creative, artistic endeavour, there is an awful lot of logic going on, internal bickering and doing by committee. But moreso than anything else in my life--my family, my job, my friends--being creative, creating art, is the only time when I am completely integrated into one Being, and when I hit my 'flow'--that magical state when time suspends and I am absolutely content.

Now, I should point out that while the things I do may never see the light of day, or may not be to your taste, does not make them any less art. Art, in its most basic self, is an external representation of an authentic feeling or experience of the artist/creator. Which is why when I read stuff presented to me as 'literature', nine times out of ten my skin crawls, because a lot of what is considered 'literature' by the talking heads is so...posed. Unnatural. Verbal topiary, if you will. While there is a place for form and shape--I quite realize that some tropes are tropes for a reason; things do not necessarily mean the same thing to me as they do to you, and that's a topic for another day--I get the feeling that many of those books are written by English Majors who feel that that story is what Should Be Written. Bollocks. Very little of what is in them is authentic to the writer. It's just depressing Victoriana, recited back by good little boys and girls obeying the dicatates of their teachers. Which is why I believe the very best writers aren't trained to be writers, they're storytellers who learn how to write well.

To be certain, you must, if you wish to carry your story to the outside world, learn to write well. Skill is something that can be acquired if one is determined enough, and is truly secondary to the belief in the validity and importance of your inner vision. Now, "vision" is a loaded word, and quite often is nothing more deep and meaningful than "parties are nice." But if you truly, with every fiber of your being, believe that parties are nice, parties are necessary, parties are the secret of life as we know it, and you can write it that way--I may believe you, even though in my experience, parties suck. Seriously. I've never attended a fun one. Perhaps it's me. Back to my point....

Art is a complicated thing--it is a debate using skills and equipment that most high school debaters wouldn't dream of using to make their points, and while most people will disagree on the aesthetics, most can recognize art when they see it. Still and all, that's what it is. So perhaps creativity is simply the feeling that your inner vision is important, is valid, is worth making solid and real in the outside world.

Of course, it is worth pointing out that this, then, naturally makes art anything that reflects someone's authentic self. If you are an accountant, an Accountant to the innermost core of your being, a well-balanced set of books can be your art. If you are a builder, the house can be your creative contribution to the greater world. Any time you bring your inner vision to life, you make art. Runners doing the perfect sprint. Mailmen, getting the mail to the correct houses on time or early. Archivists, putting documents in order just so. Anything. Personally, I tend to write or play with textiles. I'm thinking of branching out into clay, because I've got some 'found' objects that are just begging for a three-dimensional display. I don't know that there's an office in the world that can contain my sort of visions, but there are many people out there, doing jobs in offices, who feel they aren't creative because they aren't dabbling with paints, and that is simply not true. The desk worker, if s/he is doing work in touch with his or her inner truth, is creating art. Art of a different level, to be sure, and not considered art by most, but art nonetheless. Because that is their inner vision-a job well done. Well-done filing is a thing of beauty, too. Just ask anyone who has tried to find 6 month old paperwork that they suddenly need.

And since art, being an inner vision brought to life through whatever means are to hand, is an act of creativity, by definition, all humans are creative. Perhaps I'm not the only person whose inner voices are bound by the spirit of creativity. I believe this is the tiny spark of the divine that we all carry, that little voice that tells us to make things, whatever they may be.

With that thought, I must now go walk my dog. He's calling me to become one with the trees and the evening wind. He's a bit of a poet like that.

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