I thought August had brought with it a welcome return to being creative, as well as an overdue and very welcome spell of drier and hotter weather. You know, it was summer, after all. But, at the end of the month, I looked back on everything I’d done – primarily writing and sketching, and realised that I’d not, in fact, been creative. I’d not come up with anything new. I’d simply used these skills to describe, discuss and document various bits and pieces that had gone on around and to me.
At that time, I realised not only that my creativity hadn’t returned, but why this has gone. Describing, discussing and documenting are part of my (increasingly) analytical and critical nature. Pulling things apart has served me well both in terms of my education, and in the technical areas of the handicrafts I enjoy – the processes behind the products of my creativity… But these don’t seem to be a ‘natural’ part of creativity itself; rather, they’re something that can and may be applied to these processes and products.
With this in mind, I started to think of creativity, and its processes and products, as something to be analysed and critiqued. Something to which these skills can be applied. Creativity is, to me, the child of inspiration and influence. It’s one of our reasons for living. It’s… Chaotic, discordant, disorderly, fragmented and messy. Engaging in a(ny) act of creativity forces me to abandon total control over an idea, which changes in shape, size, scope and meaning as I explore and interrogate it using knowledge and skills. It’s not linear. It’s not neat and tidy. It’s not perfect.
And this has become something unattractive to me about creativity; I can see, now, that this has been coming for a while. It’s the sum of all the parts I’ve indicated in previous metablog posts. Describing, discussing and documenting feel… Clean, somehow. They feel complete. They afford me a sense of control over their subject. I use these tools to work with something already created, something that has a final form. They satisfy me in an emotional and intellectual way that creativity has not managed to do in a significant period of time.
Within the potential chaos of creativity, I find a significant probability of failure. I’ve long been an advocate of realising, accepting, acknowledging and responding to failure in creative endeavours; I’ve always believed that its from this that we learn our best lessons and make our greatest advances. But, now… Now… It feels as though the most appropriate way to describe how I feel as being fearful of failure – classic, clichéd. In concert with what I’ve mentioned, this raises the possibility of a succession of messy failures without a guaranteed successful outcome or output. So… No more creativity.
Instead I work more with the world around me. I use the skills and knowledge with which I would create to capture this in words, stitches or brushstrokes, and using thread, yarn, paper, paint… I feel as though this is, at least, like stopping muscles from entering atrophy. It stops my mind from going numb. Stops my hands from forgetting how to hold the tools of my trades. But I don’t want what I’m doing right now to be the extent of my contribution to either my own creative development or to those creative spheres to which I belong (to which I want to belong once again). I’m capable of more. My potential exceeds my productivity. I want to create again – really, truly create – but I’m scared to surrender myself to that space between inspiration and influence in which I wouldn’t have total control.
Can I force myself to be creative? Should I? If I were to become creative once again in response to the above described situation, rather than at that serendipitous intersection of inspiration and influence, would this be… Ethical? Responsible? Would I create, then, for the right reasons? If creativity isn’t there, should I – ha – attempt to create it, and accept the result as an ‘artificial’ substitute to what I would hope to appear ‘naturally’? This is what I’ll think about, no doubt, for the month ahead.