Like so many bloggers, I dropped this, picked it up, dropped it again... but I miss it. I also need it to be my journal. While Ravelry provides a great system for keeping track of knitting and spinning projects and supplies, a journal will let me work through ideas and follow my progress. And perhaps create a sense of accountability for my making the effort to focus, in the limited amount of time I have, on the non-work related creative endeavors.
So I am committing to the following:
I am going to go through the categories provided by Typepad and the ones I have created and, like a good librarian, create a useful set that will let me and, I hope, my readers follow the development of various projects.
I am going to use this space to work out the management of my projects.
Interesting, even writing about the "management" of creative projects felt like a negative. My visceral response to "organization" and "management" is always negative, always a rejection, always an impulse to run away and escape. I have those words in quotation marks as a way of signaling how much more those terms seem to mean to me than any generic meaning. I just had a fleeting visual construction of "organize" come into my head, of stacked overlapping discs in differing intensities of blue with labels like "easy access," "control," and "restriction." I need to re-construct a meaning for myself of those terms into a wholly, well, creative meaning. I wonder if I can do that.
Romantic notions of creativity -- and that is Romantic with a capital R, referring to Romantic-era cultural constructions -- are of almost divine, certainly individualistic, and crazy-making origins of creativity. Artists were supposed to be rebels, devoted to deliberately shocking and offending the ordinary mainstream population. Art equaled deviance, a rejection of dominant sexual mores, and a devotion to destroying yourself through drug use. Your creativity was supposed to manifest itself in all aspects of your life: your home, your clothes, your love life, your family life, your habits. Daily routine was considered the antithesis of, and destructive to, creativity. And all that wild living was supposed to be public. It required an audience, consisting of the bourgeoisie you were shocking and rejecting, and your fellow artists, who confirmed your otherness.
A number of books on creativity, meant for those of us who just can't get out of our own way to make what we want to make, have helped me sweep away the remnants of this persistent notion of creativity. A couple still stick, but I am working on those. I found Twyla Tharp's book The Creative Habit first, I think. I read carelessly, and so don't often retain as much as I would like of what I read, but several points in the book have stuck with me. First is that her title was very deliberately chosen. In contrast to the Romantic notion of creative chaos, Tharp argues forcefully that creativity requires habit, or rather, structure. At one point early in the book she describes her morning routine, from the time she wakes up, preparing to leave the house, calling a cab, going to the studio, and starting work. She then defines the first step in the creative work of the day: calling the cab. If I remember correctly, she sees that as an act of structure (no, she is not going to hang around the apartment until she feels like creating) and as an act of commitment to going to (her creative) work.
At the same time, I do think Tharp is still working out her relationship to that Romantic notion of creativity. Here is a quote from the entry about her in Wikipedia:
As an interesting point, Ms. Tharp indicated that The Creative Habit is about cybernetics, especially in the several Greek-themed creative exercises, such as the Coin Drop; the Coin Drop, as an exercise in extracting ordered meaning from chaos, is derived from the astrological muse, Urania, in that random coins falling onto a flat surface can be used to develop pattern analysis skills. The astrological theme is, in fact, an etymological underpinning of cybernetics' tradition of "guiding a boat" by sighting stellar references in a dynamic and synthetic way according to ancient Greek navigation.
Say what? I remember her writing about routine, getting out of bed at the same time every morning, about calling that cab, about having an archival storage box for materials for each work. The Wiki article does not provide a citation for this statement. But maybe this interpretation helps exoticize what I saw as her message: Life is chaotic. To make things, you have to first make structure.
Even that last sentence truly gave me a sense of the creeps. My problem with structure is truly visceral. But I have had it with living with the irritating obstacles created by chaos. Maybe that is a place to start: not so much de-Romanticizing creativity, as de-Romanticizing chaos. Certainly in my life chaos is irritation, dirt, and frustration. Not the mystery of the cosmos.
But if my skin creeps at the mere words "structure," "organization," and "management," I need to come up with an approach to the irritation, dirt, and frustration (chaos) that will let me sweep it out of my way. Interesting: I don't want to say to gain control. I wonder if thinking about it in terms of cleanliness rather than control would be more productive.
Austin Kleon, in his book Steal like an artist , quotes Gustave Flaubert:
Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.
But leftover Romantic affect has me balking at the idea of being regular and orderly -- how staid! I have found another possibility though in Mari Kondo's The Life-changing magic of tidying up. The last one has been discussed ad nauseam in popular media, but I am taking from it just the image of breathing freely, with a weight taken off my chest. I do not get a creepy feeling in response to that.