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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

2015 Creative Sparks

I am not sure that I would call this a resolution. It isn't really. And it is not really a mantra but it could be, as much as it could be an affirmation on the creative process. What it is, is some really good advice and an expanded version of the original "Get excited and make things."

If you don't know, or have forgotten since it has been so long that I have written anything, "Get excited and make things." is a Wheatonism. Wil Wheaton, during his redevelopment/redefinement phase of rebuilding his idea of who he was when Star Trek the Next Generation was no longer an option for him, realized that he would have to get excited and make things. And he made a lot of things. Novels, collections of new style essays, blog posts, internet TV shows, live performance pieces and I don't know what all. As he started to explore his interests and exercise some bravery in attempting things that might not work he came to a painfully simple conclusion that, honestly, stares us all in the face every day. If you are excited about a thing you should try the thing.

If you are excited about a thing and try it it might not come out perfectly. It might only be okay. It might totally suck because it was your first time to do the thing but you enjoyed the process. So in that case, you do a thing again and get closer to what your expected outcome was. This in essence is what creativity is all about. What has happened to us as a society, and me in particular, is that we judge our activities by the monetary value. Suddenly everyone is turning a hobby into a business. Which is a cool thing to happen when you are making things and are excited about them. Conversely, I find a lot of people regretting, abandoning and editing the creative process into stagnation when the ability or desire to monetize a hobby doesn't happen. And that kills the excitement about making things. And then suddenly you aren't making things anymore.

I've always believed that the act of creating things is as important as the thing itself. The creative process is its own reward in the therapeutic effects derived from the process itself. With all the pressure that exists to make money at every opportunity, especially in a recession, hobbies begin to feel like a money drain and an ill afforded luxury. So some times we stop making things. I stopped making things. At least, I stopped for a while. The problem is that after a while you lose your skills.

So now I am stuck at a point where I want to make things but I am afraid of how they will turn out. I've also not been participating in the online life that I have had since I discovered Pintrest, which is a whole other problem for a later post. I don't read as many blogs. I haven't watched tabletop and the inclusion of new people in my life has changed the time frame that I have for doing the things that I personally enjoy. You do have to sacrifice something to spend time on a river... its a trade off. That's just how things are and that is okay. But it still becomes a slow descent into stagnancy, creatively speaking. There is a feeling of hopelessness when you first realize that something in you is not as cool as once was and you try to get the groove back.

Today, I took a day to just deal with being me. I logged into Wil's blog and found that he is doing radio free burrito again. Having had a listen to get caught up and cruising through some posts, I realize what has been holding me up these last few months. I had gotten excited about making stuff and made stuff. And then got stuck. Today I found the thing that I hope will get me unstuck, the thing that is 2015's Creative Spark.

The idea is not to be perfect. The idea is to make a thing.
In 2014 I started only 2 watercolors. I didn't finish the one because I ended up with a promotion and got a lot of hours I wasn't prepared for. And it is a hard job so there is a lot of pain at the end of the day that keeps the extracurriculars down to a dull thumping at the back of the head. But it was also an ambitious project with a new technique. I couldn't finish it in one setting. And after the second week working on this thing I started to get terrified that it wouldn't come out how I wanted it to look. And it started to not look like it was supposed to. Enter the Internal editor. And I haven't touched it in months. I look at it and think... where was I going with that?

I also started a new blog in 2014 to explore the fun things that I was learning about Germany and German cooking. And in the last half of the year those posts have stopped since I have moved. My new place won't give the photography the kind of aesthetic that I want them to have. And so I have stopped blogging. I stopped writing posts because it wasn't going to come out the way that I wanted. It wouldn't come out perfectly. So I stopped. And my blog suffers.

This has always been a thing. I get comfortable and confident with writing and art so that I think that I am going along at a cracking pace. Everything is good. And then the editor slips in and starts making comments. It always happens when I experience change. It's just that I never noticed it when I was younger because the externals in my life were never so pressing to take away from the creative process. When you are your own bill payer it is a bit different. So now when I have to stop having fun and be a grown up it gets harder to get back into the creative game. Not only is the editor critiquing every little mark the brush makes, it judges the work based on the money it could earn if only it was good enough. In other words, perfect.

So I am going to have to get the editor under control and make 2015s Creative Spark Wil's new mantra. The idea isn't to be perfect. The idea is to make a thing.

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