Thursday, December 30, 2010

Then; now; metaphors (like we need more of 'em)

Had a wonderful chat with one of my oldest friends last night. He's not exactly "old," but I've known him for a quarter of a century (gasp), so I guess "old friend" is still appropriate.

He's working on his tenth novel -- yes, that's right, tenth -- so I figured he'd be just the person to talk to about my creativity struggles.

His advice as to approaching the creative process was surprisingly like the advice we MSers get regarding interaction with the physical world.

  • Yeah, you used to do [fill in the blank], but right now, you don't. You do something different. But even though you're used to doing things the old way, it doesn't mean that the new way has less value. That was then, this is now. This is what Eric Small said to a class of his I attended: Do the best you can with what you have. Very clearly implied was "not with what you used to have or what you wish you had."
  • Use what works, not what you think you're "supposed" to do. If, for example, sitting in front of the computer is draining, don't sit there. A notebook in the pocket enables creativity in the absence of technology, and has many, many other advantages.
  • Create something. Doesn't matter whether it's "good." It may not be good now, it may not be good for what you're hoping to do, but who knows? It may be good later. And, at worst, it keeps you "in motion," because (as Newton told us) objects at rest tend to remain at rest, but objects in motion tend to remain in motion.
  • Do your work during the time of day you work well. He said that a good hour during the time of day when he was at his best was worth a great deal "Ten hours would of course be good too," he smirked, "but one is worth it." This hearkens back to what my kyudo teacher said that his first kyudo teacher told him: "One hour of practice is one hour of practice."
  • Ask yourself "What do you want?" Then ask yourself, "What do you really want?" Then ask yourself, "No, really... what do you really, really want?" Shallow goals aren't worth fighting for (so let's take them off the table as quickly as possible) and you never want to hang your hat on the method as the goal. "I want to do X in this way"... well, if "this way" isn't available to you, it's no wonder the goal eludes you.
So, the question of course now is... now that I've been reminded of how to walk the path, am I willing to walk it--even if "walking" isn't the same sort of locomotion that I've been used to for so many years?

(No wonder that the simple act of "walking" the MS road is so challenging in so many ways... the path is littered with metaphors. Ankle-deep.)


Muffie said...

Robert, what a wealth of information! I need to take each item individually and really concentrate on its meaning for me. Thank you for sharing it!

Peace Be With You said...

Robert, may the new year ease your path of self-discovery, which I am grateful you have been sharing with us.