The Saturday Creativity Quote — a gift to yourself

Earlier this month, I gave a presentation to the Authors of the Flathead, my local multigenre wrriters’ group, on Building Character. The members were very kind, even when I made them write in class! I’m a big believer in celebrating accomplishments, big and small, with a moment of recognition, and so I wrapped up by congratulating everyone for being there. For showing up for themselves and their writing. Creative work is not always valued in our culture, especially if it doesn’t lead to fame or fortune, or even publication, the easy markers of success. But I firmly believe that creative work heals us. It connects us. It matters.

And I want to congratulate you, too. Take a moment to celebrate your creative accomplishments this past year. Maybe you didn’t write as many pages as you’d planned, or finish the novel. Maybe you didn’t find an agent or a publisher, or sell as many books as you’d hoped.

We all find it easy to criticize ourselves. Please, take a moment to give yourself the gift of acknowledging what you did. If nothing else, you held the intention of being creative, and that matters. Give yourself a gift to support the work in the year to come: a class, a notebook, a new paintbrush. Time. Permission to take a risk. A partnership or collaboration. A subscription to a newsletter or podcast that teaches or inspires you.

And I’ll be write — HA! — right here with you, cheering you on.

The Saturday Creativity Quote — the gift of creativity

With much of the world preparing to celebrate Christmas, or having just celebrated the Solstice or Hanukkah, I thought about the gift of creativity — not just in the arts, but in our lives. Working artists spend a lot of our time struggling with our creativity, bemoaning its limitations, wondering how to expand it and best use it. And so I’m sharing a few quotes from my collection that focus on the gift.

“One of your gifts as a writer is that you are a sensitive witness to the Universe.”
– novelist and teacher Johnny Worthen

“To meet everything and everyone through stillness instead of mental noise is the greatest gift you can offer to the universe.”
~ Eckhart Tolle

Change is a constant in your career. The gift is doing the work.
– musician Mike Mattison

“An insight is an unexpected shift in the way we understand things. It comes without warning. It’s not something that we think is going to happen and that’s why it’s unexpected. It feels like a gift and in fact it is.”
– Gary Klein, an expert on decision-making, quoted in Wired to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind by Scott Barry Kaufman & Carolyn Gregoire

Thank you, friends, for sharing the gift of your creativity with the rest of us.

Saturday Creativity Quote — the themes of our work

Many of us find ourselves returning to the same themes in our work, exploring them in different stories or eras or configurations, or examining different aspects of them. Are we repeating ourselves, we worry, or getting at deeper truths?

“The artistic evidence for the constancy of interior issues is everywhere. It shows in the way most artists return to the same to or three stories again and again. … We tell the stories we have to tell, stories of the things that draw us in—and why should any of us have more than a handful of those? The only work really worth doing—the only work you can do convincingly—is the work that focuses on the things you care about.”

Art and Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking by David Bayles and Ted Orland (The Image Continuum, 1993

The issues that matter the most to you—those are the heart and root and source of the stories only you can tell. And as the poet W. H. Auden said, “You owe it to all of us all get on with what you’re good at.”

Saturday Creativity Quote – On Finding Your Place

I’ve been rereading Art and Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking by David Bayles and Ted Orland (The Image Continuum, 1993), spurred by my own bout of fear as I dive into a project that presents some craft and culture challenges. I was struck by this comment by the authors, both primarily photographers, on finding your place in the art world:

[T]he unease many artists feel today betrays a lack of fit between the work of their heart and the emotionally remote concerns of curators, publishers and promoters. It’s hart to overstate the magnitude of this problem. Finding your place in the art world is no easy matter, if indeed there is a place for you at all. In fact one of the few sure things about the contemporary art scene is that someone besides you is deciding which art—and which artists—belong in it. It’s been a touch century for modesty, craftsmanship and tenderness.”

They wrote that 30 years ago. Their premise, which I’m paraphrasing, still holds true: We must find the meaning of the work in the work itself and in the working, not in its reception — or ours — in the larger world.

The Saturday Creativity Quote — Intentional Creativity

A few weeks ago, I spoke at the Belgrade MT PEO chapter’s annual “Books and Bites” fundraiser, helping raise money for scholarships for women, a cause I believe in deeply. The event features a Montana author or two, great food, and nearly 150 fabulous readers and supporters. I opened with a talk on my writing journey and my books, and in my second session, focused on creativity. I’m a big believer in intentional creativity – that is, setting the stage and deciding to create something, without waiting for inspiration to strike.

As Jack London said, “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” After decades working in law firms, I’m partial to the way Somerset Maugham put it: “I only write when I am inspired. I see to it that I am inspired every morning at 9:00.”

So I loved the story about the always-amazing Dolly Parton. She didn’t feel like she’d earned her seat in the Rock Hall of Fame, so she went out and created a rock album.

Talk about a rock star.

The 77-year-old’s new album, called Rockstar, is a collection of new songs she wrote, covers, and collaborations with bona fide rock stars like Ann Wilson, Paul McCartney, and Ringo Starr. Collaboration is another great example of intentional creativity. Did you see Get Back, Peter Jackson’s series on the making of the Beatles’ album? Collaboration and intentional creativity in action.

But you don’t need a band to get intentional. Me, I sat down on a Monday morning to write a short story, knowing nothing but the theme of the anthology, the word count, and that I wanted to set it in my Spice Shop world. Finished by Saturday. And did it again the next week.

Reaching and stretching isn’t just good for the physical muscles. It’s good for the creative muscles, too. So go do something on purpose. Something you didn’t think you could do. Be a rock star.