Sunday, May 18, 2014

Creative frustration

Something new every day:
I just read about titanosaur bones found in Argentina. The titanosaur was an estimated 130 feet long, the newly identified and largest (to-date) dinosaur. This story, on NPR's blog, made me smile. I think because it reminds me how small I am - the micro nature of my world.

Last week and the delusion of being overwhelmed:
I've been finding a lot of excuses for not finishing longer stories I started and not submitting more lately. The number one reason is lack of time, a feeling of being overwhelmed by commitments and changes in my work life. Number two is dual frustration/pride that comes from so many close calls. I've been getting a lot of them, the bittersweet nature of the almost. In other words, I've been a little insecure. I have been craving a little creative self help. Creatives recognize patterns; we dwell in nuance, and sometimes that makes us dwell in our minor shortcomings and think our inner worlds are larger than they are. Time to look outward.

Cue self help:
It is also from nuance that characters and their worlds spiral out to create fully-formed stories. And experience is where such things begin. See Amy Tan's TED talkwhich opens on "The value of nothing: Out of nothing comes something." This is the author's childhood observation, and it proves true in her working creative life as she realizes that living creates the stuff of story. Living, really living, means paying attention and not being afraid to delve into emotions, empathy, and vulnerability. Storytelling is a side effect of the creative. This talk is fantastic and motivated me (and it wasn't even the first time I watched it), as did the words of Ernest Hemingway, in an interview with The Paris Review, "The Art of Fiction No. 21." 

If a writer stops observing [s]he is finished. But [s]he does not have to observe consciously nor think how it will be useful. Perhaps that would be true at the beginning. But later everything [s]he sees goes into the great reserve of things [s]he knows or has seen. 

Life keeps us going and keeps us growing. We live, we remain small, and our material is everywhere because the world is more expansive than any single imagination. We are forever growing. Our material comes from the accumulation of knowledge, empathy, attentiveness, and ability to come up with new questions. My material comes from knowing that I don't know everything and must continue to absorb. It comes from knowing that I don't have to be number one of however many. I am not the largest, the best the smartest, but I am alive. We creatives recognize patterns and find stories simply by living, often when we're not even looking. And when we have time, we write them down; further, it seems, they do not disappear but change. Writing grows from life. We just have to hang on for the ride. There are new discoveries every day (giant discoveries). In other words, I'll remember how small I am. The writing won't stop.

Have a creative week!  Jen

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