I’ve been digesting all the interesting things folks have discussed with me on the last few posts. I feel like I’m learning a lot!Thanks to all those who left comments and helped push my thoughts in new directions.
Anyway, its funny how the universe can have the appearance of synchronicity at times (in itself an interesting comment on this whole discussion). Just a few days ago this writer posted the topic of “where ideas come from” on his blog as well. I know some folks may already be bored with this issue or already have their minds made up, but I always find it interesting to learn from what other people have to say.
And I especially think we potters can learn from the process of other creative artists. Being creative has the same obstacles and fruitful pathways no matter what the medium. And so I’ve found that I can learn a whole new side of things by paying attention to what artists in other media have to say. Back when I had cable I used to watch “The Actor’s Studio” because of the fascinating insight it gave me into the creative process of actors. In fact, I find I’m learning from people in all walks of life all the time. And the more I learn the less I seem to know, the less sure I am that I’ve got all the right answers, the more complex the question itself seems, and the more shades of grey there are. So I try to keep an open mind and look for clues wherever I can. Kind of like how I decide what my art will express (and isn’t that an interesting parallel?).
So here is this post I found that deals with parts of the issues I’ve been hashing through lately. But be warned, Chuck uses some profanity and irreverence in his blog posts, and I don’t want to offend anyone by sharing his link. So if you think you might be squeamish please don’t go to his post. But I can share some basic snippets of the entry that I thought were interesting. The punchline of his discussion, the serious part, ends somewhere among these thoughts:
“We see things in the world — in our friends, in our loved ones, in the forests and oceans, in magazines and books, in ourselves — and our brains set to work on these things behind the scenes like a dog whittling away a cow femur with his ever-gnawing teeth. The whole damn universe is our frequency and our brain is the antenna.”
I also thought two of his commenters had good serious answers:
“Ideas are a dime a dozen. Everybody has them, all the time. The real trick is to listen to them, and then follow them, and put the work in.” (my emphasis. I just like this because it dovetails with what I’ve been saying about the important thing being what you do with an idea, and not necessarily where it comes from.)
“People put way too much emphasis on ideas, mistaking them for these unique and precious things when any number of people who have been exposed to the same experiences and conditions can have an almost identical one…. Ideas are huge wide junkyards of stuff accumulated through years of things you may not even consciously remember. The difference between a “good” idea and a horrible one isn’t the idea itself, but the execution of it into a final product.” (ditto on this as well)
So here’s Wendig’s post for those that feel inclined. Just remember that this is a guy who makes a living expressing himself with words, and he loves playing with them, challenging people with them, and if his irreverence capsizes a few boats it was never personal.
All in all I think I have around thirty of his posts bookmarked because they are so insightful about the creative process. It is often easy to see how the issues that potters are dealing with are fundamentally the same as the ones writers are struggling with (And doesn’t that seem to be yet one more clue that individual artists are not these isolated islands that have to come up with everything all on their own, reinvent the wheel with any and everything they do?).
We share so much with others that we are just not even aware of. And instead of celebrating this we sometimes shove others (who really are our brothers and sisters in this adventure) to the bottom of the pile in our struggle to get to the top, to proclaim ourselves to the world, and to enforce our ownership of everything we have laid our hands on. I know this is true of myself sometimes when I’m not paying attention. Sometimes I can let negative emotions sway me, and a momentary jealousy or a moment of exaggerated pride causes me to deflect from the generosity and graciousness I’d rather be sharing with the world. So I’m guilty of lapses too, but I guess this is where being an artist helps me. It helps me recognize that what I am bringing to the world is not the way the world already is, but what I think the world should be. These are my dreams of what the world is supposed to be like. But the world doesn’t change just on its own. My dreams and inspiration are just echoes in my mind unless I put in the hard work of doing something with them. Its what I’m doing with these ideas that counts.