On Learning How To Catch Creativity

Sisters in the 70's
My sister & I ~ Summer 1972

Mom would sometimes send me off on little errands, only to have to turn around and go back and ask her what she wanted me to do.

I was lost in words, images, details.

In contemplating some random thought and stepping from the threshold of the kitchen onto the gaudy brown and gold vinyl running the length of the hall, barely 7 feet from the kitchen to the basement of the little bungalow back in Dodge, and before my sock feet had even stepped onto the first unfinished stair, whatever it was I was supposed to be getting, doing, fetching, was gone, replaced with whatever it was I had had swirling inside.

As an adult, I still swirl inside with words and images, ideas and little dialogues, but I have not always known to capture them, how to express them, how to show them to someone.

In my twenties, I tentatively began to write poems, and short stories, and even had an idea for a book, which still swirls past every once in a while.

I even once had one of my poems published in a University quarterly in the U.S. I somehow, in one of my many moves, lost the publication, but I was so proud when I held it for the first time in my hands, saw my name printed there in this little book. I was a published poet.

Yet I still never thought of myself as a poet. I didn’t think any of the “silly” words I jotted down in my many journals amounted to anything.

Like going to Art school, after I graduated, I still wasn’t an artist. Camera in hand, capturing snapshots, but I wasn’t an artist.

And the farther I walked away from art school, the less it seemed I’d EVER become one.

However, the last time I saw BealArt Guy, months ago now, he said; “you know Paula, out of all of us from our class, you are one of only two I know that are still doing their Art”? Now, I’m positive he is wrong on that, still, it did make me stop and realize. Stop and see that in fact, I was an artist, a poet, a writer, or, er, blogger/journaler or whatever. Kind of. Not what I thought, or certainly HOW I thought.

But still, I am also that little girl at the top step of the basement, staring off into space, sometimes. When the creative daemons abandon me and no words can be caught long enough to stick together. When everything is just as it always was, and I can see no other way to capture it anew. All the swirls of words and images and details of life are there, but I just can’t catch them long enough to make them into anything.

Even staring down into the utensil drawer the other day while putting the clean dishes away, thinking about how I should have known that Blue-Eyed-Man was trouble when I saw the condition of his haphazard utensil drawer, even then I couldn’t get the words to play ball. Even when I realized that the only time I actually think of him anymore is when I’m putting the silverware away. Not one paragraph could I tease out. None. Nada. Till now.

Which is why I steered completely clear of NaBloPoMo this year. Nope. I would have utterly failed. Lots of positive thinkin’ there, eh? I know. But check the Cheer Peppers out, they are a fabulous collective of creatives of all sorts, and without them I know I wouldn’t have got the eye of the WordPress editors and been featured last Christmas.

So I guess in a way this is also a thank you. To all of you who have continued to return to my blog, read my words, liked my posts, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Today I decided I’d just sit my bum down and let it flow, let it have its way with me. Plus, that enigmatic whatever that ignites that spark inside got lit by something I had just read on Brain Pickings on why we create:

“Money is a perfectly valid motivation for art, as much as we’d like not to think so; but since it’s also the chief motivation for selling shoes, or Buicks, or chewing gum, it doesn’t quite explain what motivates art in particular. The same might be said for the other low-down motivating forces, like success, fame, popularity, adulation, and the rest; they are all, undeniably, motivations for the artist, for all artists; but insofar as these ideals also motivate Senators, Beatles, and fan dancers, one cannot say that they are uniquely motivations for art — that useless, most unsenatorial endeavor called Art.” Leonard Bernstein, On Motivation: Beloved Composer Leonard Bernstein on Why We Create-brainpickings.org

And it hit me – money. That is why I never thought of myself as an artist, a poet, or a writer. He is correct, I still do it, even though I get nothing monetary from it. Why?

When BealArt Guy said that to me, about being one of the few from art school that still create, I told him “because I have to. I can not not take pictures, write poems, and fictions that get filed away under ‘someday’“.

So here I am writing, for no good reason other than if I don’t I will always be that little girl standing at the top of the basement stairs uncertain of where I’m supposed to be going.

Sometimes I get my butterfly net out and nab a few as they go swirling by.

Maybe that is what this blog has always been – a hodgepodge of words, images, assorted bits and pieces that I managed to catch and glue together perchance to catch that elusive daemon that is creativity.

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