Sunday, December 25, 2011

In the Spirit of Giving and Taking....

I have only the faintest delineation of Thanksgiving 2011 and Christmas 2011.  This emanates largely because I've been ill during both.  Not quite the same illness but I'm sure one is related to the other so like everything else presently the lines seem a bit blurred.

One thing that has seemed permanent during this period is my writing has been best described as ill as well.  And there I go... the better or stronger adjective surly is sick! See what I mean?

Over and over I've tried kick starting stuff with free-writes, prompts you name it. I pretty certain the the Grinch stole my creativity. He sucked it right out of me!

So the past couple of days I've stepped back and taken a look at creativity and writing in general through the eyes of others.  This is the "taking" part and sharing it here with you is the "giving."

Robert McCrum writing for the Guardian in his Fifty things I've learned about the literary life had a few interesting point to ponder.  Some of the ones that struck me as the most interesting are:

  • Less is more. Or, "the only art is to omit" (Robert Louis Stevenson). This is probably even more relevant to poetry. *Note to self: stop over writing.
  • A great novel can cost as much as a pencil and a pad of paper – or a whole life.  *I think the same can be said about poetry books.
  • In writers, vanity is the cardinal sin.
  • Keep a diary. It might keep you.
  • The "overnight success" is usually anything but.
  • Literature is theft. *This has to be true... I've heard so many variations of it.
  • Ebooks are not the end of the world. Ebooks are not the end of the world. Ebooks are not the end of the world. *Okay, if you say so. (heavy sigh)
  •  A secret is something that is only repeated to one person at a time.
  • Everything is fiction. *Even confessional poetry. By the same token, all poetry is true (in some contest)!
  • Amazon is not "evil" (J Daunt).
  • Poets are either the lions or the termites of the literary jungle. * While I have no idea what he's suggesting here, I liked the way it sounded so it makes my list.
Other things that I've come upon in my search for greater wisdom in the pursuit of creativity in my writing:

According to psychologist Dr. Robert Epstein, "External factors such as stress play a much heavier role in determining innovation than anything intrinsic."  Have I been stressed out lately? Do bears shit in the woods?

I ran across three quotes that all hit home with me.  Only one do I actually know the author of and I hate to post something without attributing it to it's author (so if anyone knows the source of these please speak up):

"It's not what you look at that matters it's what you see."  - unknown

"When you are stuck walk away from the computer. It will teach you how to see."  - Gerard Huerta

And lastly - "Art Is what you can get away with." - unknown

After all this I get the feeling that successful writing is really pretty simple. That is not to say it is easy, but simply. Perhaps the hardest part is to not overthink. To simply be quiet and listen to yourself, be observent and open it new and different views. Actually write and do so often but be willing to step back as needed and allow yourself to see the view through an different portal.

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