Creativity


I’m really starting to dread Sundays.  “Why?” you may ask. 

I’m starting to dread Sundays because I work fifteen hours on Saturday and then I have to be back at work seven and a half hours after I left to do Sunday.  Granted, I spend all day Sunday shooting camera, but the trouble with THAT is that for the whole time I’m out there with assorted people in my headset I only do 5 minutes of work for every half hour. 

The time drags like a great big dragging thing.

Lately, I’ve been spending my time in between races writing or drawing or editing(I made a Trek fanfilm look like it was at the bottom of a rippling puddle while another fanfilm rotated behind it by the corner of the picture.  Have I mentioned I have a lot of free time in the tower?) while watching movies. 

Not today, though.  Today, I spent thinking about thinking.  I was wondering what it is inside me that helps me write or edit or improvise badly on the guitar.  (That’s quite literal.  My musical talent was extracted with my appendix, I fear.)  I watched last night Pee Wee’s Big Adventure with the commentary track on.  Then, today, I watched Evil Dead and Ghostbusters.  Then I saw Young Einstein.  Through all of it, I just kept wondering where the ideas come from.  Then I started thinking about Einstein and relativity and Hawking and black holes and Val Kilmer in Real Genius.  What makes the creatives ones different from the non-creative ones?  When I’ve talked to people at work about the books or the movies, they understand the technical parts, but I always get asked something like, “Where do you come up with this stuff?”  I have a scene in the movie, the opening scene, where someone does a ritual over a small mirror.  The mirror splits and shatters and carves the flesh off the guy’s arm.  Then a whole bunch of other things happen.  I admit, I thought it was okay.  Then I showed it to two people at work and they got chills the whole day from that one scene.  (Made me feel good.)  But where does it come from?  Is there something in my head that’s different from my wife’s?  She always says she doesn’t have a creative bone in her body.  The comic books that I’ve been trying to write, the movies, Perception, my one-liners that I don’t steal from someone else, where do they come from? 

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~ by Sean on March 30, 2008.

8 Responses to “Creativity”

  1. I think that everyone has “it” to some degree or another; it’s just how actively you use “it” and where your focus is. I think that the brain is a bit like a muscle. If you don’t use certain parts of it then those parts atrophy a bit. You see it in any workplace where a guy who is whip smart and creative burns out or is a long term victim to office politics. If they stop bringing their A-Game to the table everyday, it sometimes takes them a while to get back up to their old level when new situations offer new opportunities to showcase their skills. They’re creative, but their creativity suffers due to disuse and must be exercised and strengthened a bit before it comes back to 100%.

    Combining that with upbringing can play a factor in the creativity that some display as well. I grew up around some terrifyingly creative kids who turned into very bland adults. They were brought up in houses where you “just didn’t do that sort of thing” once you started “growing up” and other such nonsense. “That kind of life” was always described as something that other people who didn’t need to work for a living could do, but they were going to learn to take care of themselves. They haven’t done anything with the gifts that they have for years now and whenever they do try and do something with their kids you can see how much their abilities have atrophied.

    I’m like that with art. I was an ok artist for a while but I haven’t sat done and done anything with it for years now due to time constraints. When I sketch now it shows how much I’ve lost. And I was always week at sequential artwork, but it’s horrible right now.

    Then there’s your focus factor. I know guys who will tell you that they’re the least creative people on Earth, but give them a problem at work or some problem around the home and they can be as creative as any best selling author is in their writing. They’ve focused their creativity on “practical” things or that’s just where their muse was. I know guys who can walk into a bad situation in the workplace and turn everything around because it’s their nature to think outside of the box. They figure out tricks to deal with poor supplies, no budgets or even no support from the higher ups without straining so much as one brain cell. But they never think of themselves as creative people because that kind of stuff is not what our culture associates with creativity. That’s just doing your job or making a living.

    The one thing that maybe not everyone has though is the ability to convey those ideas. You say that your wife says that she’s not creative. Has she ever seen a movie, commented on how poorly it ended and then offered up a better option? Has she ever been watching a TV show and pointed out that it would have been cool if “A” had happened rather than the “B” that did happen? If so, she’s creative, she just may not have the natural skill set to convey it as fully as she wishes or whenever she wants to.

    As to the question of where the ideas come from, I think it’s a combination of all of the above. From the day you start using it, you never stop and you never have the creative atrophy that same encounter, your focus is on the art of creating fiction and you’re always doing that in your head to sharpen that focus and you have the natural skill set to convey those ideas. When all of that comes together, you have the ability to play off of something quickly, connect several ideas into a whole with minimal effort and present it in an enjoyable manner.

  2. I’ll throw an example at you. Quetzalcoatl is the most famous winged serpent in mythology, but there are examples of winged serpents in a number of cultures’ myths and legends. For years now, these winged serpents have been written off as mere myth or simply giant birds that were exaggerated into great beasts or gods by “primitive” man. The reason that they’re so quickly written off is because there aren’t serpents with feathers. Birds have feathers, lizards have skin flaps. A giant lizard with a bright, colorful and magnificent plumage of feathers was a silly notion.

    Well, at least until science started working out the mechanics of your once mighty T-Rex having evolved into Pete the Parakeet. Some dinosaurs started evolving and adapting into creatures that had feathers to conserve energy by keeping the body warmer and some evolved further into gliding, and eventually flying, dinosaurs. Or, as they were named by ancient man, they became winged serpents.

    I’m sitting there watching an old TV program rerunning on Discovery channel that was talking about Quetzalcoatl and the “myths” of the cultures around it. And my brain goes from point ‘a’ to point ‘z’ in about twelve seconds. There really were winged serpents. Science has been discussing this fact for the last decade. What if that means that the cultures who feared, fought or worshipped winged serpents in the last 5000 years or so really did deal with these things? Most of the winged serpent legends are in cultures that are warmer weather or tropical areas or that share ancestry with the people of those regions. Could they have lived with the last of the true feathered dinosaurs? Could these creatures have survived until the time of the first Spanish boot stepping onto South American soil? Could the last small family of winged serpents or thunderbirds have lived until just the last century?

    Could a really good story be set with this 1000, 500, 100 or even 10 years ago? Could a story be created set in the present day that wouldn’t be goofy as hell? It’s not an overly original thought and one that has been done in fiction with other creatures before. But the simple fact that my brain went there means that it’s working better than it has been in the last few years of not really focusing or working on it. That’s something that my brain should have played connect the dots with years ago, but I haven’t been exercising that aspect of my brain the way I should have been for about the last seven years. Does that mean I’m more creative now than I was two years ago or does it mean that I’m doing stuff like that more easily right now because I’ve spent the last six months working harder at doing that kind of thing again? I would go with door #2 on that one.

    I’ve got one that’s driving me nuts that Mulligan would love, but, as much as it’s throwing everything else into disorder and disarray, I’m not ready to throw it out there just yet. But it’s something that came to me lately that, had I been really working on the parts of my mind that I should have been the last seven years, should have come to me years ago.

    So, yeah, I think it’s a combination of things that answers the question of where those ideas come from. But the biggest aspect of it is actively using it.

  3. So, is this Mulligan’d-love-it-thing the thing we talked about before?

  4. If you mean here…

    http://jjchandler.wordpress.com/2008/01/27/its-so-annoying-when-your-ideas-outstrip-your-talent/

    … then the answer is yes. I’m getting it done on to paper (and then into the computer) and getting better at shaping it, but it’s still bugging the $&!^ out of me.

  5. … done and on to paper…

  6. In THAT case, amigo, it would appear that Ian is wrestling with the same story idea.

    “You see it in any workplace where a guy who is whip smart and creative burns out or is a long term victim to office politics”
    Yeah, that was me at my insurance job. Being really creative won’t help you out if people don’t want to TALK to you.

  7. First off–as for everyone having it–agree 1000 per cent. As for some people being better at expressing it than others 10000 per cent.

    Bringing up Quetzalcoatl–I just recently watched a piece talking about and shooting down the aincient astronaut, Chariots of the Gods theory. While I don’t fully support the idea, maybe there WAS some sort of advanced influence–say, Greco-Roman, Asian, Atlantean or even Alexandrian. Maybe THAT’s what all those carvings are. I just read an article on how the Romans did brain surgery. Just because we’re as technologically advanced as we are, and can have a googolquad of music in something roughly the size of my nostril, doesn’t mean that we’re the most advanced that humanity’s ever been. It could just be that these other societies didn’t have the Germans to invent magnetic tape to record things on or photographic paper.

    Like I said before, I’m dangerous when I think.

  8. Well, ironically enough once you read this, I was suddenly inspired to check to see if anyone’d ever tested the EEG pattern of one of us creative types. Among other things, I found THIS—

    http://www.futurepundit.com/archives/004722.html

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