Monday, May 13, 2013

This month in Creativity

I stopped writing "This Week In Creativity" because I was spending too much time relaying tips and advice and not enough time actually being creative.   The latter part is still true but I feel better about where I am right now and see that I still have the potential to be creative.  My personal big news is that I am again employed.  I am an guide and educator at a wilderness conservation centre and love the work although I am not so thrilled about the pay.  Still, it's keeping me busy and engaged and in a position to enjoy nature while looking for long term work.

With that out of the way, here are some links of interest.

Gilbert Keith Chesterton has advice that is still relevant.  Here are eight tips for discussing controversial topics.

Scott Adams looks at the connections between creativity and mental illness.  Instead of hiding your schizophrenia, promote it on your resume!

Usually parents remember the very first time their kid lies.  They're shocked....[Mom] thinks, "Why does he take after his dad?"... But you shouldn't worry.  The moment kids start to lie is the moment storytelling begins.  They're talking about things they didn't see....It calls for celebration.
... [big ellipses here]...That's right-- a novel, basically, is writing one sentence, then, without violating the scope of the first one, writing the next sentence.

Brain training at Sci Am.  I am not sure that these games work other than in that specific skill set; I don't think there is a lot of transfer.  Still, they have their uses. More from Sci Am.   And at Nature.


The breakthrough came when my producer said to me, “Why don’t we remove _____?” He named a very specific aspect of the novel, one of the very few things I felt I hadn’t already gutted. Without it, the story would sink, I was sure of it. “You’re insane,” I said, displaying the same genius I had when I passed on Fight Club. “The whole narrative hinges on that.” “The whole book does,” he responded. “The book isn’t the movie.”

Shaun Randol: This year, PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature highlights bravery in art, politics, and our everyday lives. What is the inspiration behind choosing bravery?
Salman Rushdie: The most obvious inspiration is that we all feel it: you can’t have free expression right now in a very wide range of countries. It takes a lot of guts for writers and journalists in those countries to stand up against repression and do what they do. Russia is a case in point where, as you know, journalists have an embarrassing habit of being killed for their reporting. PEN has done a lot of campaigning on behalf of Russian journalists both jailed and in some cases actually murdered.

A letter writer to Dear Cary on Salon asks why isn't he a TV sitcom writer yet?  He discusses some of what he has done to lay the groundwork and how much debt he has wracked up in the process.
 Is it possible to find success in my career while working a career program? I can’t shake the feeling of having to “graduate” before I can move on. And also, in your opinion, how many programs is too many programs to work?
Cary offers reasonable advice that I, not having any income or reputation riding on the answer, find too mild. It sure seems to me that he is too busy trying to possess accreditation or outside validation before actually doing the work.  The letter writer, in my opinion, is thinking too much like a university student and not enough like an apprentice who learns by doing.

In another Dear Cary letter, a woman (maybe I'm being too hetero-normative, the writer writes about a man and is in a marriage, so I think it's a she) finds a man work turns her on creatively and romantically.  She worries about herself-control and her marriage. Cary responds in part:
Well, pour it into art. That’s one way. Pour it all, all your soul’s craziness, all your excesses, all your incomprehensible and frightening passions, pour it all into art. Use therapy and exercise and swimming and writing to keep yourself together. You are not these things; you are the container. You are the vessel, the host, for the world’s movement through you. Read Jung. He will remind you. Read his “Psychology and Religion.” And meditate. And find a window in your house where you can sit and be this other person that you become in this man’s presence.

Be that person. Also, and most important: bring that person — that other person that is also you! — into your marriage. Be that person in your marriage.
I may have to read more Cary letters.  A brief read of the advice doesn't encourage me to value its content.  Now, creativity is not recipe-following and none of the research I have done suggests it ever will be, so advice will always include, "meditate and carefully consider your problem" rather than, "Do this, then that."  I'm finding more and more that I am a logical person who likes following guides or flowcharts and doesn't like "meditate and read Jung" as advice.  I hope the letter writer finds the advice more fulfilling than I do.  In my defence, I am willing to read more Cary to see if I accept his point of view rather than shut it out.

 Recently, on the front page of the Times, there was an article about how David Mamet is publishing his next book by himself. David Mamet, who doesn’t need the attention, gets the front page. The rest of us cannot even get replies to our email.

If there is one positive thing about this self-publishing business it is this: You separate the wheat from the chaff among your friends and acquaintances. Who is willing to lend a hand and who cannot wait to abandon you? Who will nudge someone they know and get your book to them and who just won’t even acknowledge your desperation or is laughing at you behind your back? Some people have been remarkable, others’ names are now forever etched onto my Eternal Personal Shit List. I have a Facebook friend — I’ve never met her — who works at a not-the-Times newspaper who’s been amazingly supportive; there’s someone I know via Goodreads who told me that Amazon has some sort of print-on-demand capability and has guided me through the process; ... And so on. But for every one of those, there’s a cold stare, a frigid shoulder and a turned-up snout and probably a fair amount of feigned — or real — gagging.
I cannot wait for those people to ask me for help one day. Because you know what I’m going to do?
I will help them as best I can..

Newton worked on creating a universal language with a rational set of rules.  There may be ideas here for the next Tolkien wannabe creating the next Elvish language.

We need a new metaphor for 'using different approaches'.  Nat Geo "Thinks outside the box on exo-planets"
The article discusses how current thinking, that planets containing life have to be rocky ones within a limited zone around a sun, may be too limited.  I think the writer is going where Arthur C Clarke went decades ago in his sequel to 2001, a Space Odyssey. The book, I think  it was 2010, described a moon of Jupiter as having the necessary conditions for life.  The Nat Geo article discusses greenhouse gases and posits the sweet zone around the sun as extending ten times Earth's orbit out.


Sci Am asks if Science Fiction writers can inspire the world to save itself.  They seem to be discussing Neal Stephenson's plea for Science Fiction writers to Go Big, Be Positive, that I wrote about a year ago.  Hey, I scooped Sci Am!


Finally, How to be a better friend.  I can't say it relates to creativity but it about friendship so it can't ever be wrong to discuss.

1 comment:

brian dean said...

Not yet ready for a new blog post, but felt this was interesting:

http://tinyurl.com/n8k5mg2

Advice from HP Lovecraft.