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03 December 2006

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John B.

I feel a wee bit presumptuous, being among the first here, but I like this idea and wish there were an easy way to do something similar on Blogger. Ah, well.

I am a 40-something married, transplanted Texan living in Wichita, and I have a humble blog. I hope some of you will visit.

To the questions:
1) I tend to think of the blog as an indulgence more than something creative, but I do think of my job--teaching (I teach English at a community college there)--as a creative act: I try to convey the idea that learning, real learning, is an engagement with something vaguely-known or unknown that may or may not ultimately be of practical use to you but is never wasted in that you learn a bit about the world and yourself.
2) (1) works only to the extent that the student buys into this way of thinking. When s/he does, it's magical and I feel as though I've earned my keep there in ways the paycheck can never signify. When s/he does not . . .
3) I'd point my friend to Walden and/or Velázquez' painting, Las Meninas. Each is inexhaustible to me as a source of inspiration and, in the case of Thoreau, a kick in the backside that, after all these years, can still smart.

belledame222

hey, SB! glad to be of inspiration...

lessee:

1) Writing, and in a previous incarnation, theatre-making, including directing. Is it difficult: it depends. I think the focus and discipline of seeing a project through from start to end is what's hard, for me.

2) Anxiety about life circumstances undermines it; second-guessing myself; too much isolation. Best support comes from, not so much "great work!" or critique, although that's welcome, too, usually, but rather more, what we used to call in improv "yes, and..." building off and bouncing back. certainly in a collaborative process. this is why i find it so much easier to blog than to generate material in isolation, i suspect.

3) Depends entirely on the friend in question. sorry to cop out, but it's true. i'd look for something that i thought would resonate to the individual.

Cheryl

Hello! I'm a stay-at-home-mom to three small children and it's only recently that I've come out of the procrastination cave and started writing again so I'm feeling a bit rusty.

* What do you do that you consider creative? Is it easy, or difficult for you?

I write on a whim on whatever subject comes to mind. I usually do my best when given a deadline. This is how I get procrastination to work for me.

* What supports -- or undermines -- your creativity?

I'm overly critical of myself and have a hard time just writing without correcting something.

* If you could give a friend one piece of creative inspiration (advice, or a poem, or a painting, or a book, or whatever occurs to you) what would it be?

Make procrastination work for you :)

SB

John B: Absolutely no presumption; thanks for getting us started!

As a college student, I learned quickly that subject mattered far less than the teacher; that a passionate teacher could teach me anything, and dull one take the shine off of something I loved. It sounds to me like you are a teacher I would have chosen.

That painting is amazing. I've downloaded it for ongoing consideration. And Thoreau -- of course. You know about this?

belledame: Being an inspiration -- that's creative! I completely agree with your #2 -- especially anxiety and collaboration -- and, of course, #3 is an excellent point.

Cheryl: Oh, that inner judge. Mine's a rottweiler. Needs a choke chain.

Love make procrastination work for you. Wish I could manage to make it work for me in all sorts of ways.

On to the questions:

I think that home-making is creative -- designing/ arranging a house and garden for the comfort, ease, and inspiration of oneself and others. I find this challenging, but not difficult.

For me, house-keeping is not creative, but I believe this to be a failing in myself, rather than a fault in the activity. I want to be like those meditative monks, who live in each moment, touching god as they wash a dish. But I'm not.

I consider blogging an art form, that I am trying to dis-cover. Sometimes it's easy for me, and sometimes not.

Taking photos is easy, because I don't have high expectations of myself. Writing poems is more difficult, because I do. That's one of the reasons I like the snapshot poems -- lower expectations, more easily met.

I consider the visual arts -- painting, sculpting, even performance -- truly creative. And extremely difficult.


Supports: structure, deadlines, community -- all of which blogging provides, it occurs to me.

Underminers: worry, illness (lack of energy), inner judgement


Inspiration: Record your dreams.

Mary Scriver

Every morning when I crack my eyes open it feels as though I have to create the world again and sometimes (esp. when it's very cold) it's pretty hard work. Other times the world springs into being with no effort at all.

Other than that, I'm not sure I like the division between creative and non-creative. I've spent a lot of time wrestling with people who insist that "creative" is special to the point of being kind of precious and twee and confined to only pretty and nice things. They want one to be creative but also want to dictate and control what is created. Critique it. I'm always tempted to be defiant, shocking, offensive. So that's the answer to the second question.

The advice is "the hell with the others -- follow that thread no matter where it goes." I mean, don't hurt people and other sentient beings, but don't have too much care for boundaries either.

If you've ever begun to really succeed, (if you've ever begun to really lose weight, f'rinstance, or get an advanced degree), you'll know that your friends will try to discourage any growth or achievement that means you might leave them. They will deny this. Whether you do or do not leave them doesn't depend on what you achieve. They won't believe this.

Prairie Mary

John Baker

My main job is writing novels which, I do realize, allows me to be creative during the best part of my day. Yes, it's difficult, but also rewarding. One of the not-so-obvious spin-offs of a job like mine is that it often leads to insights into the writing process. The passing on of these insights is one of the main objectives of my blog.
What supports or undermines my creativity are everyday vicissitudes. The real necessity is the quiet space in which concentration can take place without too much interruption; and what undermines the creative process is the helter-skelter of daily life, illness, gambling, any kind of drug including alcohol.
The advice must always be to plough your own furrow. Whatever you are creating has got to come out of your own depths. You have to be able to reach inside yourself and find that unique thing that only you can give. So don't listen too much to others. No one can teach you anything other than technique.

belledame222

>Other than that, I'm not sure I like the division between creative and non-creative. I've spent a lot of time wrestling with people who insist that "creative" is special to the point of being kind of precious and twee and confined to only pretty and nice things. They want one to be creative but also want to dictate and control what is created. Critique it.>

Thanks, Mary, I was thinking along similar lines but wasn't quite sure how to phrase it at the time, so let it go.

SB

Mary: I wouldn't have you any other way.

John Baker: "The real necessity is the quiet space..." -- this is true for me, also. For many years, I felt guilty for requiring so much of it. Now I know -- it's simply necessary for me. That's just how it is. No more excuses.

Mary & belledame: "... I'm not sure I like the division between creative and non-creative..." I think I see your point, here -- but for me, there is a difference.

It doesn't have to do with the specific activity, or the product, but with my internal experience. I can write a poem, but not from that 'creative' internal space -- and so, it is not "creative". And such poems usually sit flatly on the page, too.

I know that other people can wash dishes from that centered, internal place, and feel the wave of creativity pass through them as they do so -- but I am rarely -- very very rarely -- able to do that.

So, for me, it's different. Writing, or thinking, or seeing, from that center that feels creative to me -- or from some more shallow place, the top of my mind, the safe place.

What do you think?

DrMeglet

Hi. I'm a long time lurker and almost never commenter.

-What do you do that you consider creative? Is it easy, or difficult for you?
I used to paint, sculpt, write, photograph, and solve mathematical problems. Now I mostly code, make jewelry, and photograph. However, just about everything I do, between work and home, I see as problem solving, which can be creative.

-What supports -- or undermines -- your creativity?
Undermines: pain, crankiness at the world, frustrations at the limitations of the medium to never match what is in my head or what I see that I want to capture.
Supports: All the fun books I read, craftzine.com/blog, and the various blogs I read, making me think "I can do that". People's feedback.
In turn, I'd like to say thank you, SB, for a fabulous blog that's given me something interesting and inspiring to read.

-If you could give a friend one piece of creative inspiration (advice, or a poem, or a painting, or a book, or whatever occurs to you) what would it be?
Advice: Giving in to your creativity is never a waste of time, it is essential to your health, your soul, your world. Inspiration: The way the sky mixes with the light and the trees, in all times of day and year. Here's an attempt to capture that.

Prairie Mary

After visiting belledame's blog, I don't think she's likely to be accused of being precious or twee! Maybe what you're calling "creative" I might call "inspired," that is, when -- I'll be pretentious -- the immanent erupts up through the quotidian and suddenly what one is writing is MORE than what one is writing.

That other version of creative makes me think of grade school where we all made gummy messes we called "creative" to give our overtolerant mothers.

Prairie Mary

Megan

This is my very first time here and I'm commenting anyway because a) the idea is so cool and b) I loved all the other comments!

Nice to meet all of you. I am a stay-at-home mom of one, homeschooler, artist, Life Coach, Entrepreneur, blogger, writer... I'll stop now.

I'm extremely PASSIONATE about creativity. What do I do that's creative? I want to say: Paint, Draw, Write. Then I thought, but so much more right? I mean, what isn't creative? I teach, coach, encourage, live to inspire others... Worship, pray, study. And of course there are the creative things I'd never do publically: dance, sing. Can I just say that I Live and in that I am creative?

Right oh, what hinders my creativity? Myself. Never anything but what's inside of me. Fear, doubt, self-consciousness (what if they don't like it, what if it fails?). I find being creative every day is hard, it's darn hard to live each and every day honestly enough that I leave room for the creative and don't just let myself fall into the rut of everyday life.

What inspires me? Other people's art, conversation - strike that, GOOD conversation, a great image - just the perfect thing to say, a desperate desire to be myself no matter what, awesome writing, the success of other creative people.

My piece of advice... Do I have to pick one? I've made my life work to be inspiring others to live creatively - how do you sum up a life's passion in one piece of advice/inspiration? Maybe: Be true to you. Live the life only YOU could live, other wise what's the point?

SB

Mary: No, I doubt that Fetch">http://fetchmemyaxe.blogspot.com/">Fetch me my axe has ever been called "twee".

But those gummy messes were creative!

Weren't they?


DrMeglet: I had hoped this might entice the lurkers; welcome! I hope you'll feel free to comment more often.

I completely agree that problem solving is creative, and very satisfying. And, once you're past that first flush of creative inspiration, the rest of it is mostly problem solving, isn't it? How to move the piece as close to your vision as possible?

Thanks for sharing that photo. I was thinking just yesterday about how I love winter, even though it's cold, and more difficult to get around. I think it's just that -- the light through the trees, how the world opens up when the leaves fall.


Megan: Welcome to Watermark. I am blessed with many thoughtful and creative visitors; you will find them good company. A whole bunch of folks who, ummm, experience the immanent erupting up through the quotidian.

Or something.

Cathy

•What do you do that you consider creative? Is it easy, or difficult for you?

Photography is easy to a point (unless I really screw up the shot.) . Poetry is the hard ( need to spend more time with it.) and the hardest thing I ever done was writing my Star Wars stories.

•What supports -- or undermines -- your creativity?

What support me, just my need to create something and my need to explore things in my life.
Undermine, sharing my work does a lot undermine. I really think people don’t like my stuff especially the poetry. So sometimes I feel why bother with it all

•If you could give a friend one piece of creative inspiration (advice, or a poem, or a painting, or a book, or whatever occurs to you) what would it be?

Just try it but don’t tell anybody to be on the safe side

SB

Cathy is, in fact, one of my favorite poets -- and I cannot let this stand without comment.

I am consistently impressed with Cathy's astuteness, her gift of imagery, the beauty she finds -- and expresses -- without turning away from pain. It is not unusual for me to tear up when reading one of her poems -- and I am not the weepy type.

Now, perhaps we simply share an aesthetic that few others do. Or -- I think, more likely -- an online audience tends to be in a hurry. They see the spelling and grammar, and don't slow down enough to actually read, with the depth her work requires. The depth her work would require, even if it weren't slightly fogged by a learning disability.

Because, it's deep work.

And Cathy, if others don't see that -- it's their loss. If you stop posting, it's ours.

Cathy

Thank You Sharon :-)

Laura

I'm a Laura. I work as a software engineer on computer-aided dispatch systems. Some days my work is just putting pieces together but as often, I work on design, which can be very creative. Some designs come easy - some don't. (I include in the latter category any that come easy and then have to be totally reworked based on review....)

I also write poetry, take photographs (sometimes as snapshots, sometimes with a careful eye), and sometimes draw. In the past, I have done beadwork and made tabletop fountains, but I have not done either of those in quite a while.

I don't know how to answer the friend question - it would depend on the friend. Some I might offer advice to. Or just a listening ear. Others a few short words. Often, I have no clue what to offer. Perhaps the best encouragement is to respond with a (genuine only, of course!) squeal of glee or admiration to something they have done, I think....

Jacquie

Hi all,

I discovered Watermark by chance when I Googled the word "crows" and discovered a past post of crow haiku, which I really enjoyed. It was very serendipitous, as I'd just posted my own crow haiku on my fledgling blog.

I write stories and poetry and have published several novels for children. I also like to take photographs and make art (mainly mixed media collage, plus I do a lot of crafts with my 11-year-old daughter). I'm inspired by almost everything (especially history, nature, books, other people's art....)., and could write, create and blog/read blogs all day if I had the energy. The main thing that undermines my creativity is fatigue and sore eyes (I'm sorry to say, it's hard for me to read through all the interesting comments here, but I hope some of you will come and visit me on my blog: http://wildink.wordpress.com/).

I'll be back when rested.

Jacquie

meika

* What do you do that you consider creative? Is it easy, or difficult for you?

triple digging a garden bed in order to bury the subsoil from construction which had buried for six years the good soil and putting the subsubsand on the subsoil before the good soil (loamy, friable, black) back on top

* What supports -- or undermines -- your creativity?

Lack of a day job. Writing comments on blogs?

* If you could give a friend one piece of creative inspiration (advice, or a poem, or a painting, or a book, or whatever occurs to you) what would it be?

The Mountain (in Hobart, Tasmania)

http://meika.loofs-samorzewski.com

MarillaAnne

*What do you do that you consider creative? Is it easy, or difficult for you?

I am a creative person from a long line of creative types. If I want to figure out how to do something, it comes easily. But THEN Once I figure it out, remaining focused on the project is a huge challenge because I'm bored as soon as I figure it out. It's frustrating for everyone involved in my life -- especially me. It's one thing makes me subject to the tag of Adult ADD.

My creative moments have included various needle/shuttle and thread type projects, Many forms of computer work, 2way satellite internet installation (very creative).

I'm currently writing, which is a steady thread throughout my life but this is the first time it's been a singled-out focus. Writing in my blog has been rather fun because it's legal to be random. I am playing with photography some.

* What supports -- or undermines

My husband provides me with the single best gift of my life. He protects my time and space and takes my writing as seriously -- probably more seriously -- than I do.

The thing that undermines my creativity is well two things: First is the ADD. Besides being easily bored, I'm easily distracted. I have to set up a series of little "fences" to keep me on subject. And the whole process slows me down considerably.

Second is that this long line of creatives that I come from has a long standing policy of denying that they are creative-types. (don't discuss that they could actually get paid for being creative-types.)

For example, here I am with a bunch of creative types, speaking openly of how frustrating it is to be easily creative and yet not easily focused ... and I feel like I'm bragging or being egotistical ... because I'm admiting that I'm creative. Aggg!

Ok well ... I didn't expect to suddenly be pouring out my frustrations but uh ... thanks for asking and thanks for listening.

* Advice

Read "to be told ..." by Dan Allender.

I found your blog through NaBloPoMo randomizer. I can't remember if I've commented before. This is a great idea. I've been playing with a similar idea because I have people coming to my blog who don't have a blog and they feel intimidated. I'd love to know if you get anyone to delurk who doesn't have a blog.

oh and that's the reason i dropped in ... my blog ... I'm finally putting my blog roll together and your in it. ... Unless it freaks you out :~)

ttyl,
pam

SB

Wow -- lots of new folks. Exciting!

Laura: "...take photographs (sometimes as snapshots, sometimes with a careful eye)" -- so well put. Exactly.

And, you neglected to mention that your blog is "devoted to creativity"!

Jacquie: I hope you discovered our Crow Poem Dance -- this is one of my all-time favorite posts here at Watermark. Please feel free to contribute to it.

Pretty impressive list of books, there. I hope you will be able to spend some time here.

meika: Does lack of a day job support, or undermine, your creativity? Both?

Good soil -- a good and necessary thing.

pam: I'm happy to be on your blogroll! & I wish I could manage to French braid my hair; my arms always give out too soon. I'm sure there's a trick to it.

Endment

Tried to comment before --- but today blogger has allowed me to post a couple of comments - perhaps it will again ---
At the moment my most creative activities are trying to circumvent blogger and post on this blog :)

Leesa

I'm also a transplanted Texan, I now live in Montana.
I express my creativity with my camera (http://wildshots.blogspot.com) I think the area I live in supports that dream :). I would like to get back to a city every now and then to capture there too.
I think I would give all of my friends cameras if I could. I hear all the time, "I don't have the eye you do". I believe if you just get out there and look, you'll find it :)

This was a neat idea! Thanks :)

Chia

I write sad poems and funny stories.
Maybe that's why I am still a very optimistic person

Caus'
If You Shed Tears When You Miss The Sun
You Also Miss The Stars

Kind regards from The Netherlands

Theresa Quintanilla

From Houston, I am trying to start a newsletter publishing business. After the start of the new year, I plan to keep a journal of my trials at www.QTalks.com. I am compulsively creative, mostly in the area of fixing things differently. To stimulate one's creativity, walk around the back yard like you've never been there before. Better yet, visit someone else's back yard.

SB

Endment: TypePad was having commenting problems one day last week; I hope you come back and try again; I'm always so pleased to see you here.

Leesa: Oh, another Montana Blogger -- welcome to Watermark!.

Chia: Hello from Montana. I had no idea Frappr could be so interesting -- you have a fun page.

Theresa: Compulsive Creativity! Really, I wonder if we'd all be like that, if we allowed ourselves to be?

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