Tag Archives: Creativity

April = National Poetry Month

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Did you know that April is National Poetry Month? I had no idea until tonight, but I’m sure glad I found out!

If you read my last blog, then you are aware that, as of late, I have been struggling quite seriously with my creativeness. And, to elaborate a bit further on my thoughts from last night, I think part of my problem is my tendency to subconsciously believe the misconception that ‘true’ or ‘pure’ creativity and inspiration can only happen organically and never as a result of one’s deliberate intentionality. However, a fellow artist and friend of mine, after reading my last blog, said something to me that really hit home; it’s nothing I haven’t heard before, but it was definitely the reminder I needed: “…sometimes,” she said, “you have to be really purposeful and specific about creativity.”

Words of wisdom, those are! Thank you, Michelle!

It’s true, though, how we succumb to this belief that something isn’t really creative if we’ve created it through a scheduled and/or disciplined agenda. Somehow – and I have no idea why this is – in our minds, spontaneity becomes synonymous with true creativity.

But the two ideas are not synonymous, as Michelle pointed out. One can tap into her fullest potential and create something that’s true and meaningful and authentic while also being deliberate and completely strategic about it. Jeez, I, of all people, should know this! I’m a pianist!! Sure, the gruelingly long hours at the keys, practicing scales and arpeggios and the like can suck, but when you put everything together and apply the technicalities to, say, Liszt’s “Gnomenreigen”, the pieces all fall into place; and suddenly you find yourself effortlessly playing a highly creative, highly genuine masterpiece. A song. Not simply a series of complex notes and rhythms.

My point? You don’t just wake up one day and play a Liszt piece. You practice. And practice. And PRACTICE! Day after day, note by note, one fragmented measure at a time – for hours and hours and hours! Until a work of art is born. Now if that’s not an example of intentional, disciplined artistry, then I’m not sure what is!

All that to say, Michelle is right. Being specific and purposeful is key.

And that’s precisely where National Poetry Month comes in. First of all, I love poetry. And, for whatever reason, I’ve always enjoyed writing poetry more than I have prose (even though I think I’m actually better at the latter). Some of you know that I attempted National Novel Writing Month last year and failed miserably. Regardless, I think a specific plan and focus will help me get back on track with my writing, and the thought of writing (or reading) poetry for thirty days excites me far more than the idea of writing a shitty novel in a month.

Thus, I’m committing myself to a one-month poetry writing/reading/sharing challenge. For the entire month of April, I will attempt to interact with as much poetry as I can, whether it be original poetry that I’ve written myself or simply another poet’s work(s) that I read (and then share with my blog readers). After all, in any genre of literature, to be a good writer is to be a good reader first. Right?

So…let the poetry writing & reading begin!

[And just for kicks, check out this video of an 8-year-old who plays “Gnomenreigen” better than most adults probably ever will. Wowza! CLICK HERE.]

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Post-college reflections: if you happen to see my friend Creativity wandering about, please send him my way.

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Today at lunch a couple of my co-workers and I discussed the pros and cons of post-undergraduate life. And my initial thought/statement was this: “I don’t really miss school.” Especially since I’m still at school every day (just playing a different role now).

But as I sat there and pondered my own words, I realized that deep down, I’m still quite undecided when it comes to the whole issue of being finished with school. The life of a graduate has a number of significant pros: no homework, more sleep, more time to pursue a social life…hell, I even have more time to, well, waste! Guilt-free procrastination! (Hmm…although, I suppose it isn’t really procrastination, since I’m not exactly putting off any particular tasks or assignments. Whatevs. You get my point.) I love that I can come home from work, eat, relax, watch some TV or a movie, and go to bed without even an inkling of remorse or that nagging question in the back of my mind: “Okay, what did I put off that will come back and bite me in the ass later?”

Blissful sigh. It’s a wonderful life, really.

But, of course, it’s not all pastries and frothy caramel lattes. Being out of school has its cons: my student loans are now in repayment, work (although I still LOVE my job!) can sometimes feel a little too tedious and monotonous – and freakishly busy! Sheesh!, and I sometimes feel lonely and disconnected. Being a student flat out handed me a social network that was always there, even when I didn’t want it. Now I have to work twice as hard to maintain friendships and connections. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining! Honestly, I didn’t expecting anything less. But still, for an introverted, semi-anti-social butterfly like myself, it’s not particularly easy! But you know what? I’m fine with these ‘cons’, because I knew they were coming. You can’t live out your college experience forever and truthfully, were the choice mine, I’m not sure I’d even want to.

There is one ‘con’, however, that has created a significant amount of mental stress for me – stress that I keep trying to ignore. But, as usual, one can only ignore these things for so long. My conversation with my co-workers today brought said factor to the forefront of my mind again, and as I went home and thought about it this evening, I found myself a tad bit depressed.

Here’s what I realized (or perhaps “re-realized”) today:

More than anything, school always fueled my ability to create. I learn and create best when I’m surrounded by other people who love to learn and create, and my network of friends, classmates, and profs at NU (especially in the English and/or Music departments) provided me just that.

I think about my Conducting class with Bill Owen, or my creative writing classes with Lenae Nofziger, or my Romance & Fantasy Literature class with Julia Young…the enriching discussions, creative projects, and countless hands-on opportunities to communally discover and express ourselves…I just don’t have that anymore! And my life – my writing, my lack of interest in other creative pursuits that once greatly interested me – clearly reflects that.

Yes, it might be weak and pathetic of me to say that I can’t create without school, but that’s not what I’m getting at. I fully acknowledge and accept that I, the artist, am responsible for my creative pursuits and results. But I realize now how large a role school played in these pursuits and results, and now that school isn’t in the mix, I feel, like I said, a bit depressed.

At the end of the day, it all comes back to two key concepts:

One, I am a learner — and very much a communal learner. I need a community of thoughtful, think-outside-the-box-type individuals to fuel my own interests and passions. Otherwise, I have an awfully hard time coming up with ideas on my own. Second, I need to find new ways to keep a balanced amount of creativity in my life. As much as I like this new stage of life – having a job, having other responsibilities that allow me to build my independence, it’s undeniable that, in this 9 to 5 world of adult responsibility and professionalism, creativity can slip right through your fingers without giving you even the faintest warning. That is certainly my story. And I am seriously ready for a plot change.