I’m not an artist or musician. I’m an okay cook and baker (attempting Snickerdoodles at five was a mistake, but hey, they looked good in the Betty Crocker cookbook with the glossy photos). I’ve improved since then – at least creating edible cookies w/very few burnt batches. 😉
And so, I’ve devoted a bit of introspective time over the years to the ‘why’ behind my need to create. The thread that’s continuous back to my childhood is the need to express myself. Using words because that’s where my individuality resides. It’s never mattered whether it was in written form or interpersonal expression. It never mattered whether it was vocational or avocational, paid, or unpaid. Expression related to home décor and design sit equally alongside the work-related satisfaction I’ve found as a helping professional. I’ve loved it all. The visual and verbal just go together.
The blogging experience so far has been a revelation. If left unattended, I could endlessly obsess about the quality of my posts, especially because I’m able (now, anyhow) to write every day without feeling pressured. My too-busy brain is continually cataloging a topic, based on a discovery, a conversation, or a memory. These snippets are just THERE – bouncing around needlessly – so I might as well use them as blogging fodder.
In grad school I met a lightning rod in the form of a beloved professor. Decades later, his wisdom is still a touchpoint for me, even though we lost track of each other long ago.
Why? Professor Plum 😉 (not his real name) vaguely resembled the beloved Clue character, minus the purplish fuchsia sweater. Other than that, spitting image, I say, spectacles and all. I often wanted to greet him with a candlestick and ask if he’d been in the drawing room but I knew better. Keep it to yourself, Vicki. Besides, given my bad hair days – then and now – he likely regarded me as a blend of Marge Simpson and/or Cruella.
But back to Professor Plum and creativity. His overstuffed office carried the stink of woe begotten ideas with a whiff of something spiritual, magical. Soothing, almost. I realize now it was an atmospheric mix of hope and the joy of creativity. The odorous intrigue also included a pungent tobacco punch. He smoked – something – in his cave/office and more than once I imagined the potential fire tragedy. If only he’d open his window…he had one…but it was jammed to the top with stacks upon tipsy stacks, eclipsing all light and the potential for fresh air.
He offered mumbled, stooped-over apologies every time a student entered. “Sorry, sorry” he’d say – scraping away a layer on the lone side chair in his office. “Here, sit here.” He’d stand for a minute or two to ‘reconnoiter’ his back with his legs. “Too long, I sit. Good to stand” he’d say.
I’m still embarrassed about my non-verbals the first time I visited. I know my face conveyed shock and despite my unkind visage, he did his best to welcome me. In explaining the mess, he surveyed the piles with outstretched arms, sighed and said: “Some of us are compelled to create. This is me. Everyday — thinking ‘write or die’ and it’s all here. It’s me.”
Ah. Comfortable with self. His declarative ‘It’s me’ was liberating to hear. Excessive worrying about the quality of a creation – whatever it is – gets in the way, muddles the magic. He knew that and managed to share, in little slices and interludes, how he made peace with it – and forged ahead, just the same.
Summoning his perspective helps – especially when I’m feeling critical of myself. What else? I appreciate this piece about the ‘science of creativity’. More than once, it’s helped to normalize and quiet the inner critic, enough to let the creative juices flow freely:
Despite the widely held belief that some people just aren’t endowed with the creativity gene, there’s not really any evidence that one person is inherently more creative than another… creativity is something that anyone can cultivate.
How do you get to your creative place – that spot of ingenuity that’s uniquely you? Sometimes just by doing. And then “doing” some more and shushing the gallery. Kudos to Professor Plum – write or die, indeed!
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