I already wrote a blog recently about my making an altered book. I am only one page and half a cover in, by the way, because my life continues to be too busy for life. But enough about first world problems for a second. I have enjoyed so much figuring out how to make an altered book, teaching my students how to make an altered book, watching them get started, spending time at Hobby Lobby and Jerry’s Artarama with my son spending too much on supplies (even though we reigned it in, really), and then sitting at the dining room table with him doing actual art. Cutting, pasting, painting, drawing…
Here’s the thing I’ve noticed: I make an interactive collage of Matilda and suddenly I’m up half the night scribbling notes in some fan fic I started a couple years ago.
In other words, creativity begets creativity. Art begets art.
When I was in college, I quit singing and playing the trumpet. Mostly, anyhow. I purposely didn’t join any bands (well, until that ska band came along) or any choirs (except that one gospel choir) because, as I said it, I had too many hobbies. And it was as true then as it is now. You can only do so much in a day, lady. I wanted to still be able to paint and do photography on the side and do lots and lots of writing. Later, with a family and especially small children, I put more things on the back burner until cooking, blogging, and the worship team where the only little pilot lights still burning where anyone could see them. But there was a nuance to the algebra of life that I wasn’t understanding. (Probably a whole lot more that I’m still not getting, but.) Doing something creative may take literal time away from doing other creative things, but it feeds into it all the same. When you take creative things out of your life—no matter what those things are—you are subtracting from your creative juices. Likewise, it’s not the creative hobbies that are distracting from your flow, from your creative output. It’s all that time doing the completely noncreative things of life.
When I started flexing all those old, familiar and somewhat atrophied muscles sitting down and making that altered book, suddenly synapses started going like fireworks in my brain. I had about a million ideas for picture books, restaurant menus, city murals, dog fashion, not to mention novels and short stories. I felt like my old self again. The blood was flowing. The gears were whirring. I thought I was wearing down a little because reality creeps in and you get older. Turns out the wonder of a child can be found a little bit in first behaving like a child.
You may believe that creativity can’t be forced, that art can’t be funneled. Read my blog; I’ve never actually supported that idea. I’ve seen great art come from perspiration and determination, at least where talent and tools are already available. In my life I have now come to the acknowledgement that, let’s say it together, creativity begets creativity. If that means I’m going to jump on a wave of collaging inspiration come hell or high water (or appointments and long work days), then I’ll jump on that wave. Because I know that wave isn’t going to take me out to sea, it’s going to take me wave after wave to my dreamboat.