Monday, January 11, 2010

Inspiration Series I

I suppose I've always been a little preoccupied with understanding the creative process. Ever since I went to Real School and someone told me I was Very Kreative and I was puzzled as to why they thought this about me. Isn't everyone? And then for Geography once I drew a forest. Also at Real School. A deep dark forest, with milky greenish white tree trunks and dark spaces in between the tree trunks. Because that's what forests look like, right? the gaps between the trees are dark, coz there's no light in the forest. Murky. And then my Geography teacher wrote in red pen next to my forest 'tree trunks must be brown.' And then I started to understand. Some people aren't lucky enough to have parents who give you a whole wall next to your bed that you are allowed to draw on. Some people are told they must not go over the lines when they colour in. Some people have their imaginations vaccuumed out of them quite young, poor souls. Some people forget that we are all entitled to call ourselves artists, because making stuff is just a normal part of being a well rounded human. Isn't it?

And then there's that weird phrase they tell you: '1% Inspiration, 99% Perspiration.'

Well its true I spose. Kingfisher wings flash at you only once in a while, but ants toil to get their kingdoms built. There's a shitload of gathering and ferrying of pollen before the honey oozes.

This blog started as an attempt to take seriously those ladies who love watery grottoes. Honouring the Muses. Sounds pretty trite, but having been deserted by them before, I do take em seriously, and will make the necessary libations. Its true that there are certain conditions that need to be in place if you want the kingfisher to swoop malachite and turquoise at you once in a while. The one I'm most interested in is this link between wild spaces and the creative heart. For me they are intrinsically connected. As we box in our wildernesses and burn our forests for burgers, aren't we also collectively desertifying our imaginations? That's what makes me go all chilly in the night.

I teach young aspirant creatives, aka drama students. I also teach teachers how to nurture creativity in the very young. I'm always a little shocked by the attitude that inspiration is something mysterious, that Creative is something you either are or you aren't, like you don't have to work for it. Drink, take drugs, and let the Muse strike when she's ready. Er, sorry pal. She's got better things to do.

I'm also often engaged in the task of raising start-up money for creative projects and I'm equally shocked by how both 'The Arts' and 'Nature / Environment' are so low on the priority lists, how they are something 'over there', nice to have but not as important as dot dot dot, those other things old Maslow said are more important. And how we artits (spelling unintentional but I'll keep it)all participate in our own grovelling. (I swing pendulum-like on this issue: sure I believe I must be paid my worth for the creative work I do. But if the money's not there its not going to stop me doing it).

I don't believe in Writers Block by the way. But I do believe that anyone can become creatively bankrupt, burned out, stale, flat, blah, polluted. And I do think you can suffer from some kind of internal terror, a kind of page fright where you are so concerned with the Other, the Audience, the Big Scary, your Grade 3 English teacher or whoever it is that whispers in your ear that your words are Not significant /too self indulgent or whatever else may be your personal creative Tippex.

So, mindful of the fact that I've been an infrequent blogger of late, I'm giving myself a map. Some musings (yes, I know) for the year ahead. Talking points, you know. For when I have nothing to say, or when I'm saying it all somewhere else and forget to pop in here.

With apologies to Julia Cameron, lets call it The Muses' Way. Some proposed route markers in this conversation:

Angel or Demon (Or, Things that go dump in the night)
Silence (or, You can't hear the stars if the TV is on)
Food (or Eat your artist's dates)
Water (Seriously though)
Vantage Point (or, mapping, or having a nice view)
Company (or, Get the hell out of my space)
Pollen (or, Group sex behind the wild irises)
Privacy and exhibitionism (or, Do you want to see me naked?)
Procrastination (or, Ooh look, a recipe for pickled garlic)
Composting and Recycling (or, How do I get rid of all this old crap?)
Harvest (or, Don't forget to say thanks)
Theft: Steal, but don't lie
Forest/trees, chaos/order, left brain/right brain (and other mythical dualisms)
Curiosity (did not kill anyone, not even a cat)

Not that I am announcing all future blog topics here. Good God no. I need to leave space for the unexpected odd ramblings, rants and reasonings. Nor am I offering any words of self help how-to for the creatively malnourished. Sorry. No fountain of wisdom here. Hopefully, just some points to trigger questioning. Coz when the curiosity goes, that my friend, is the day you have become a frightful old bore. So, which one shall we talk about first?


Angela said...

Each one. Why not start with Angel or Demon? That sounds good! Let me think about that one myself. And then Silence...and then...
I totally agree that everyone is creative. But it is fear, fear of rejection, criticism, anything negative, like, Haven`t you got better things to do? that stops us. I wish my parents had given me a wall to paint on, or at least not told me that asking questions was WRONG!

I love your blog, Tam, please share all your thoughts with us, epecially the crazy, unfiltered ones!

Anonymous said...

I love this post, Tam. Much of what you say so resonates with me. I was told to "colour between the lines" and "stop messing around, do what you're told." My creative endeavours dismissed and belittled - "perhaps you're dyslexic".

In recent years I've been rediscovering that part of me. I have a number of my paintings up on the walls. When Mother came to visit the UK, she looked at the art on the wall and commented how interesting they were and how she loved them, "must have cost a fortune for so many originals." When I pointed out the artists signature, "well I am surprised, you never showed any talent as a child". Nice!

The Bug said...

I don't know who first decided I wasn't creative. Wait - it must have been me because I've been writing poetry my whole life which my family likes & tells me to publish (they're CRAZY). See, there's that voice in my head pounding out all my inadequacies. I wonder where it came from?

Anyway, I want to hear about Compost, please!

pam said...

Yay Tam. It sounds to me like my pic of you with word mountain transfigured to wings may not be a moment too soon! Lovely thoughts as always, and useful ones too, on a topic that is also one of my constant internal companions.

Val said...

am so with you on both these issues - desertification of imagination as we box in our wild places; and creativity; and why are Arts/Environment and Nature so low on everyone's priority list. My view puts them at the top! well said all xx

macjanet said...

There is not a single brown tree trunk in my garden of 15 trees. What a restrictive, deadening thing to say to a child.
Lovely post.

tam said...

Thanks Angela. Plenty more crazy unfiltered me coming up!
Rob, the other one of course is 'making up stories' - how many of us had imaginry friends or fairies dismissed as nonsense, or worse, lies?
Bug, in the Artist's Way there's a cool exercise where you can write letters to all the people who have dissed your creativity in your life. I wrote a particularly scathing one to Ms Geography Teacher.
Mama! I need that picture! Hoorah.
Janet, luckily my dear parents hooted when they saw it, and in our family its become code for that kind of mindset ever since.

Thanks everyone!