Friday, May 25, 2012

Big Questions. Any answers?

A Girl Writing
by Henriette Browne, 1829-1901

The whole secret of life is to be interested in one thing profoundly and in a thousand things well. Horace Walpole.

I really identify with this quote. But I'd have to add two things interest me profoundly. However, the real question for me is: Why am I interested in the things I am interested in?

I have long been interested in writing stories. But why am I interested in writing at all? Why, one day, when my daughter was an adolescent, did I decide to take on writing as a serious venture? And now, twenty-five years and ten books later, I am still writing.

Being an introverted kid, I lived a great deal of time in my imagination, making up places and stories that only I got to live in - creating parallel worlds for myself, really. It relieved anxieties. It took away my fears, made me brave. And it was fun. So, is it perhaps a mix of interest, curiosity, fear, and fantasy that made me interested in expressing myself through writing?

There is a scientific theory that being sad makes us more creative. I'd like to get into that, but I'd be way over my head. It's now being tested in brain studies. They can have my brain when I'm through with it. But where creativity comes from in the first place is something I cannot answer.

I am also an artist. Did I blunder into a fine arts degree because it was the only thing I was consistently praised for in school? Is it that simple? I think, for myself, I was mainly interested in the fact that I could pick up a pencil and actually draw something that was a fair representation of what I was seeing. Pretty simple really. And it became of deep interest to me..

We all, I suspect - have interests that, if nurtured could grow and develop into something creative - might even be eventually called "talent". I taught young people art, and adults writing, for years - and I saw huge "talent" wasted by laziness and a lack of deep interest.

Turning an interest into something truly creative only works if there is drive and enough dogged perseverance to learn, stretch, grow and take risks.  All art involves craft, after all. It's the profound need for some of us to follow our interests that makes the difference: and not being afraid to jump into the deep end, to make mistakes, test ourselves - and trust that, in time, skills and a deeper meaning will come.

It's having the compulsion to develop our interests into something uniquely "us" that is a huge part of changing our passions into creative creatures that take on a living breathing life of their own, whether it is music, art or writing.

So, what drives some of us to continue to practice and generate our more creative interests - no matter what other people think? I think, for some of us, these enthusiasms for the things that absorb us actually feed something deep inside us that we crave; perhaps a growing sense of self during the act of creation; and as we use all of our skills, interests, curiosities and creativity to execute a vision that is ours alone, we also find ourselves coming closer and closer to finding out that, perhaps, we are actually capable of doing things that will amaze even ourselves.

But where did these interests come from that have captivated me for so long? And why am I driven to continue to invest in them? I really have no idea... but maybe I don't need the answer after all.