‘Life’ has been interfering dramatically with the reality of creativity recently. When I say ‘recently’, I was initially thinking of the last six months or so. As I wrote the words on the electronic simulation of paper before me, I realised that this has been happening for years. It hasn’t been a one directional slope of course or I wouldn’t be writing this. It has been more of a sine curve with the peaks and troughs that implies but perhaps not so regular.
A few years ago I was painting and drawing a lot, but a house move meant the physical space available for that activity was greatly reduced. I was also writing of course and the two activities seemed to go hand in hand quite well. When I moved the reduction in the one didn’t seem to particularly free up time for the other as I rationalised it might as I let it slide away. ‘Real life’ intruded to fill up the space available. It had done so on a much greater scale in previous incarnations and as a result both activities had necessarily been mothballed for various periods.
One of the things this surrender to a life outside writing and drawing/painting has done however , is build up a store of memories, experiences and character references that I can draw on as I write. If I am honest, I suppose I would like to have written a massive bestselling novel at twenty two and spent the rest of my life building on that. I am not sure however, that I would have liked to have forfeited the experiences I have had in the intervening years. There would have been others no doubt, but as the point is hypothetical, I am content with the order in which things were done. (Note – massive bestselling novel still hypothetical!)
So what has the preceding six months given me? Well as straight reportage it would be an intriguing, if frustrating tale. With a bit of tidying up it could be a small town allegory for many of the intrigues I have seen on a bigger scale in government circles. But of course I can’t use it. At least not without a massive amount of work to disguise it.
So what about those experiences I was on about above? Are they really worthless? Obviously not. You don’t put the story down as it happened with a few name changes. That isn’t creativity. What you do is take certain traits, some situation and add nuances from another. Add difficulties, iron out those tricks of fate that resolved things in a way no-one would ever accept as real in a novel. You move the location and add in some action from a completely different thread in your life experience. Before you know it the character you made up has a background of their own and you know that, despite what you thought when you started, she would never resign before she had revealed the college professor to be the creep he really is. A story about a new beginning, with your character running away from difficulty, turns into a triumph of dogged perseverance in the face of adversity.
In the fullness of time I hope imagination will play on these experiences and who knows what creativity might make of them?
For now, back to trying to overcome my ‘real life’ challenges and preventing them from interfering with what counts.