I’m continuing to quote from Spark this month.
Architect Robert Venturi was interviewed with his wife, architect and urban planner Denise Scott Brown
“Quoting T.S. Eliot, [Ventura] pointed out that the creative process consists enormously of criticism. You don’t invent all the time. When you get an idea, you try it out, then you critique it. You work much of the time as a critic of your own ideas.” And he and his wife are critics of each other’s ideas.
Being seen as creative because he’s male, the lone genius, with his wife less creative is a problem. “Both views are stereotypes, and neither acknowledges the complexity in our tasks that pushes us to work creatively together. It’s relevant that we’re not performing artists. If we were, the nature of the collaboration—who is doing what work, how the creative work is shared—might be more obvious.”
I so enjoyed sharing with you quotes from Spark: How Creativity Works by Julie Burstein (2011), a book of excerpts from interviews by Kurt Andersen for Public Radio’s Studio 360 show, which Burstein produced, during February that I’m going to continue that this month.
Poet Donald Hall (1928-2018), on writing about the land he was born on, long held by his family, and the life he lived as a child:
“If we could bring [that world] back, I’m not sure I’d want to live there. I want to keep that world in the world by writing about it. … [ellipses original] This is a motive to literature—preserving what is gone or what is going. And it is, of course, an important part of preservation to try to preserve the dead whom you loved and admired.”
This month, I’m sharing a few of my favorite observations from Spark: How Creativity Works by Julie Burstein (Harper Collins, 2011), based on interviews conducted for Public Radio’s Studio 360, by Kurt Andersen and produced by Burstein.
When asked what artists can do in the face of destruction like the 9/11 attacks, which occurred a week before her interview:
“I think it’s a very sharp moment for people in the arts, those who love the arts, those who make them. I think it asks particularly of people who make art a very poignant question: If you think that art is not worth doing in a time like this, it probably isn’t worth doing at any time. If you think that art is indeed part of what I call the world’s work, then to be loyal to it and to look to it for strength, for its strength now, seems right.”
– poet Marie Ponsot
I’m continuing to share a few of my favorite observations from Spark: How Creativity Works by Julie Burstein (Harper Collins, 2011), based on interviews conducted for Public Radio’s Studio 360, by Kurt Andersen and produced by Burstein.
Trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard on working on a soundtrack for a documentary about Katrina: “You can’t avoid your daily experiences. You have to write about those. From an artistic point of view, I had to do it. [Surviving and recovering from Hurricane Katrina] became a very emotional thing. … I didn’t want to be a part of that whole movement of folks where when something happens, everybody tried to jump on the bandwagon. But at the same time, I started realizing that I am a part of the story. Being an artist, you can’t avoid your social setting. … The trumpet represents, in my mind, people on the rooftops crying for help and not being heard.”
A few weeks ago, I read Spark: How Creativity Works, by Julie Burstein (Harper Collins, 2011), based on interviews broadcast by Public Radio’s Studio 360 program, conducted by Kurt Andersen and produced by Burstein. Subjects included novelists, poets, filmmakers photographers, painters, an architect, and others. This month, I’ll quote a few of my favorite observations.
“Lots of things I choose to write about, inevitably they’re something I’ve known about for years but that for some reason or another never migrated into my imagination as something I could use. You could also say that the pantry was getting bare, and I was looking back behind the first row of cans. For me, even if they’re not cataclysmic events—9/11 for instance—events around me have to settle into the ground and then percolate back up through my feet.”
— novelist Richard Ford
Get going, I’ve been telling you this month, but just as important: Don’t stop!
“People who want to write either do it or they don’t… my most important talent – or habit – was persistence. Without it, I would have given up writing long before I finished my first novel. It’s amazing what we can do if we simply refuse to give up.”
— Octavia E. Butler, American science fiction writer (1947-2006)
“The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.”
– Mary Oliver, American poet, b. 1935, in an essay titled “Of Power and Time”
(Mixed media piece by Leslie)
Get started. Get going. Pick up the pen or brush, the guitar or camera. Who cares if your first effort or your first hundred stink? Sentence by sentence, line by note by image, you’ll get better. You’ll connect with your tools and your subject, and most importantly, your heart and creative spirit.
The rest of this month, the quotes will focus on getting started.
“You’re going to write a lot fewer songs, fewer poems, fewer books if you sit around and wait for a bolt of lightning. I think you should put a pencil in your hand, put the guitar on your lap and get to work.”
— Musician and songwriter Jeff Tweedy, on NPR, Nov 11, 2018
Lilypad photo by my friend Brooke
“In a way, regaining the joy in writing is nothing more complicated than getting out of your own life and taking a vacation in the world of your story. That’s not so hard. It only takes ten deep breaths. It’s as simple as a walk down to the harbor. It may not seem that there is time for that. If you feel so, let me ask you this: Is there anything more important to do with the next two minutes than to nurture your soul and dream your story’s dream?”
— Don Maass, literary agent, teacher, and writer, on Writer Unboxed, 9/5/18
I’ll end this month of focusing on the sense of hope inherent in any act of creativity with a line from one of today’s most inventive artists.
“To engender empathy and create a world using only words is the closest thing we have to magic.”
— Lin-Manuel Miranda
I wish you much magic in the year to come, in your studio and beyond.