Friday, March 28, 2008

"Today's creation is woven with threads of yesterday's masterpieces."

Narcissistic confession here: I really enjoy my own writing. When I go back and read stuff that I’ve in essence forgotten that I’ve written, I am amazed how much I like some of it; amazed that I’m often emotionally moved by it; astounded that me, all of a high school graduate, wrote it. (And of course there is the therapy of it—the soul-watering of the experience—but that’s another blog for another day.)

But quickly in that same moment I am keenly aware that a writer is as good as the sum of all those he/she has heretofore read. Today’s creation is woven with threads of yesterday’s masterpieces. I unto myself and left to myself am only a no-talent wordsmith-want-to-be. Without Seuss, without comics, without the sappy stories from elementary school readers, yesterday’s and today’s great writers, I would be starved for a sense of laughter, irony, sarcasm and wit. For I am a sticky ball that rolls o’er the pages of those that have come before, picking up a new idea or phrase here, a turn of expression or tone there.

I am not one who creates as much as one who is lucky enough to be wired to simply pay attention to the details that are unfolding around me and then mysteriously files the moments away in some cerebral card catalog for future use. Perhaps creating is the art of remembering in color; the art of reconstructing old remembrances that others unconsciously sold in a mental garage sale. And maybe an artist is really more of a tour guide, walking us along dusty touchstones and pointing out, not the obvious, but the details of images that have lost their hue.

Creativity is taking one back to a high school football game; colorizing the faded reels. Reminding us that Angie’s sweater was a bone-colored cable-knit with enough collar for two sweaters. It’s scent-tizing the event, reminding us of the smell of over-salted popcorn and dark damp leaves that hung about the silver-painted solid steel bleachers that boomed like the hull of a ship. It’s remembering that being 14 was to wish you were grown up enough, lucky enough, to have someone you could share a plaid blanket with; and then not have to walk home or have your parents drive you home afterward.

And even this cheesy blog is not solely my own. It has been inspired by the ancient Frenchman, Voltaire:

"Originality is nothing but judicious imitation. The most original writers borrowed one from another. The instruction we find in books is like fire. We fetch it from our neighbor's, kindle it at home, communicate it to others, and it becomes the property of all."

And postmodern poet Leonard Sweet:
"Creativity is not coming up with something new from scratch. Creativity is scratching something new out of the old. Only God creates out of nothing. The rest of us create out of complex somethings."

So perhaps I’m not so much creative as I am co-dependant in the eternal community of artists… ;-)