The Creative Process

It’s crossed my mind that it must seem a bit arrogant for me to keep referring to “the creative process” – as though there were only one creative process at work in the Universe, and I just happen to be in tune with it.  But there really doesn’t seem to be a better way to describe the experience I’m attempting to discuss — at least not in keeping with my own artistic philosophy.  In my view, there really is a single, unified creative process.  But by no means do I claim to be in close touch with it.  I believe in this fascinating process, much the same way that I believe in God.  However, I’m about as close to the essence of this process as I am to God Himself – and believe me, that isn’t very close.

It is my belief in this process that is at the core of this blog.  In fact, I would venture to suggest that if we all understood this process better, we would come to a better understanding of the nature of God.  After all, who is God but the Creator?   By definition, He is not just “a creator” – but the Creator.  All other creators and creations are subject to His single, all-embracing Act of Creativity — that which always was, is now, and always will be: the continual creation of a highly creative Universe, in which all of us are privileged to create.

If that were not the case, then I wouldn’t be a believer.  But since I do believe in God, it really doesn’t seem to me as though there is any other way to look at it.  Besides, God or no God, the theme of creativity–with all of its processes, procedures, and protocol–simply fascinates me.  I want to learn more and more about it, as my creative life goes on.

While my oft-usage of the word “muse” is purely figurative, there does seem to be a frequent and common experience of sensing the “presence” of a powerful creative force.  Or, as I tried to describe in the previous post, I can at times sense that the arrival of this creative power is imminent.  As it happened, I did not manage to muster any motivation for my current playwriting project on Friday, even though I “felt” that something was about to “break” as early as Thursday night.  But Saturday was another story.  I began my process of writing, editing, and rewriting at about eight in the morning, and basically did not stop till midnight.  This morning, I did a few final edits, and can now announce that I’ve completed up to p.75 of this piece to my satisfaction.  The last time I made a progress report along these lines, I was only up to p.64.  I had finished the first four Scenes last Saturday.  Then a week of “nothing” went by, and I finished at least half of the fifth Scene the following Saturday.  

graham_wallas
Graham Wallas

But was that “week of nothing” really only “nothing?”  I think not.  There is a theory, most notably espoused by Graham Wallas, that once a creator is fully committed to their creation, the creative act continues constantly, even when nothing is being considered consciously.  This process of unconscious creation is known as incubation.  Then, in conjunction with a moment of illumination, the creative process is consciously resumed.   Arguably, this is what took place during the week when it seemed that nothing was accomplished.  Suddenly, much was accomplished on a single day.  

Of course, there are other theories as to why this could have come about.  But there are also many theories as to how the Universe came about in the first place.  Could God Himself conceivably have “incubated” for an eternity or so, before the illumination that instigated the Universe was initiated?   How much incubation has occurred worldwide, on a planetary level, before this most recent series of illuminations could take place?  To what kind of creations will all these “illuminations” lead?   It boggles the mind to think about it.

But think about it we will — and we must.   I would venture to suggest that we’re all going to be thinking quite creatively in the days, weeks, and months to come.  We will have to – and we will – for we always have.   We were created in His Image, and in His Image we will sustain ourselves -for we are the highly creative, divinely inspired Human Race.

The Kiss of the Muse

On Tuesday evening, I left the all-night restaurant alluded to in my most recent post, convinced that I’d somehow managed to hook up with a very talented batch of like-minded Writers.  I gave each of the six other participants a copy of my Scene One, and received from each of them a chapter of the novels they’re currently writing.

My main reservation is that I’m the only playwright in the bunch.  Also, since I’m a musical playwright, there are song lyrics as well as dialogue and stage directions strewn about my manuscript.   This differentiates me even further from the novelists in my midst.   Moreover, they all seem to be writing fantasy or science fiction–which of course is to be expected.  But my work is intended to deal with social issues such as classism, and to paint a picture not often seen of the Homeless Phenomenon in America

However, this doesn’t mean that their feedback will be of no value to me.  It only means that I’m afraid to receive it.   After all, our commonalities are greater than our differences.  I look forward to receiving input on plot, character development, clarity of content, and the like.  What I dread is that someone might object to some of my lyrics, without being aware of the type of music that accompanies them, since they won’t be hearing the music, but only reading the words.   This has happened before in the past, and it has put me in an awkward position.

kissofthemuse

Still, they’re all very intelligent, highly motivated people.   I’m sure that whatever happens at our next meeting, the fact that I’m finally convening with others of my ilk, and no longer hiding from the public world in stubborn isolation, is bound to reap more benefits than detriments in my creative life.

Otherwise, I’ve been busy with work and church (which in my case are very closely related, since I work at a church).   I’ve also been engrossed in some personal matters for the past few days.  So, while I did succeed in finishing Scene Four, as reported in this post, I’ve not yet begun to take a stab at Scene Five.   But I can feel it starting to simmer within me, somewhere down there. It’s a vague but very real sensation: an undeniable sense that I’m about to burst into another creative binge.   It feels as though something inside me is “percolating” — or, more accurately, incubating.  It’s almost as though I can feel the Muse approaching.  If I’m lucky, maybe she’ll kiss me, as she did the similarly exhausted Writer in the charming little picture up above.  Well — here’s hoping.