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.

Time to Come Out

People in general have no idea how insecure I am about this whole playwriting process.   I could gloat about how it seems as though I’m gradually developing a positive support group in the community here — and I must admit the guys at the bagel shop downstairs have been remarkably supportive.  But what is that, really?  So there’s this guy who lives upstairs who likes to come down for a bagel and has a halfway interesting project going on.  So what?

To their credit, the “guys” to whom I refer are Paul, the night manager who has a degree in Psychology; and Josh, the swing shift worker who has a degree in Acting.  That’s a good blend, considering the subject matter.  There’s also Mary, the choir director at my church who played Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady, and this fellow David who is the Artistic Director of the local community theater, who got his MFA in Playwriting and Directing from the University here.  I’ve discussed my work with a handful of other people, but the obvious course of action is to find some kind of writer’s  workshop.

writers-workshop-returns-1862When I ran into David the other day, I asked him if he thought it would be possible to audit a playwriting seminar at the University.   He seemed to think it would work if were to email the professor who teaches the class; and then, if I didn’t hear from him for a few days, just to walk into the building and announce my desire.  When I mentioned this to Josh last night, Josh also said they would almost certainly let me do that.  He then directed me to the building – so at this point it’s only a matter of working up the fortitude.

It might be a good idea for me to print out the script first, what I’ve got anyway.  Basically, since whenever my last “progress report” was, I’ve written up to p.53, or about midway through Scene Four.  There’s a good chance that if I start now, I can finish Scene Four this morning.  Then maybe I can print the pages out at the library.  It would be nice to show up with hard copy in hand, willing to let somebody look at it if they like, before they decide what to do with me.

Yes – this is the obvious solution to my woes.  The writer’s block that I occasionally encounter may not be as severe as the one earlier blogged, the one that kept me at a standstill for three years.   But the impasses are painful.  They slow me down, and they need to be addressed.   It’s time for me to get off my rump as far as presenting myself to the Performing Arts community here.   It’s not that I’m not thankful for the support I’ve thus far gleaned – it sure beats wandering the streets of Berkeley trying to maintain my sanity by composing music out loud after gang bangers hit me on the head with guns and stole my laptops.

But it’s time I did things according to reasonable protocol.  It’s time to break out of my shell.  It’s time to come out.