Thoughts on Creativity
Is your painting giving you a message? Does your sculpture begin to eye you with suspicion?
Does your short story slyly reveal something you’ve never thought of before [at least not consciously] and is it perhaps embarrassing?
In making this video, I think I’ve just learned something about the creative process. If you watch it, you might just see what I mean. Also, it shows better on the full screen.
Often artists think they’ve crafted a hugely important message for the entire world but maybe not. Maybe it’s a message just for them. They stand before the easel and after a few moments shout — who in hell created this?
This creative business is sometimes like a mysterious fog settling over the brain until it finally takes hold and produces something. But sometimes when you’re done you are surprised—perhaps even shocked.
Consciously you thought you were doing one thing and, once you’ve done it, it’s not at all like what you planned. Perhaps your subconscious has been sending you a message to your conscious self. But that doesn’t tell us much.
Here’s an example. When this little video was “done”, it really surprised me. For some time, I’d been wanting to write a blog post about a photographer whose work I love—Eugene Atget.
Often I call upon my fictional character Alexander Wainwright, star of The Trilogy of Remembrance, to tell the story. He thinks I am his alter ego, but actually he is mine.
Instead of a written blog post, I decided to have some fun making a video. That’s a craft I am just beginning to play with. Any “mistakes” I can and will blame on Alex. He is the one to take you on the walk through the streets of Paris.
I knew I wanted to use Atget’s photographs in the video. And I knew I was in a somewhat “dark and grumpy” mood. Although I couldn’t explain this mood to myself, I set about the work.
Step 1—I spent time selecting Atget’s photographs with no particular criteria in mind—only whether I liked them.
Step 2—I was using the Windows Movie Maker [which I’m learning]. I uploaded the photos in no particular, conscious order.
Step 3—I started hunting for music. French Cabaret music sounded just about right. It took quite a while but finally, I bought and downloaded an album by Rouge Music Group. After listening to the various tracks, without any thought or debate, I chose exactly the opposite of my [grumpy] mood.
Step 4—I needed a story line. No point in just panning over a bunch of photographs. What kind of story would that be? I looked back at the photos I had already uploaded and saw that, with a number of adjustments, I’d have my narrative. I’d only need to add music, which I did. “There is a Small Hotel” now lilted along with the changing photographic panorama.
Step 5—now for the words. Each frame got a few words. The task of writing the story—to my surprise—came fairly easily. It was definitely guided by the music.
I’m not suggesting that this video just “flowed” out of me. It did not. Lots of work lay ahead. But when I had a pretty well finished draft, I was surprised at the results.
“Did I create this?” I asked.
I had expected I would produce something dark and doom-filled—building to a crescendo of angst. But au contraire! It was a happy sort of piece.
Alexander was telling me something I very much needed to hear. Even though the shiny “happy” surface of life may hide or mask the dark and sinister, the surface of this world can also hide the good, the beautiful, and even the sublime, life-giving parts. I well know that masking the dark and sinister is good for plots of murder mystery novels, but the reverse is also true—goodness and vitality can also be hidden beneath the surface.
And so, that is why I say that Alexander [my subconscious?] reminded me that sometimes you will find a beautiful message hidden away despite what you think you want to say. This comes out as you practice your art.
What does this say about creativity? I think that the very best “stuff” for creating something is stored down in the subconscious. But it’s more than that! The subconscious [according to Jung] seeks to balance the mood or correct what the conscious self insists upon. When the subconscious disagrees, it usually wins.
It seems that I have appointed Alexander Wainwright as the representative of my subconscious and expect that he will often surprise me with his thoughts.
Watch the video and you’ll see what I mean. Please leave your thoughts in the comment box below as I love to hear from you [and so does Alex!]
Mary E. Martin is the author of two trilogies: The Osgoode Trilogy, inspired by her many years of law practice; and The Trilogy of Remembrance, set in the glitter and shadows of the art world. Both Trilogies will elevate the reader from the rush and hectic world of today and spin them into realms of yet unimagined intrigue. Be inspired by the newly released and final installment of The Trilogy of Remembrance, Night Crossing. Presently,