Creativity and Crisis: The Conference

October 20th 2012

Well, I went to the conference. I’ll post all that I learned (or managed to get into note form)  for any potential writers who couldn’t make it to the conference. [later, after I reflect.]

But honestly, what did I learn? Amidst the seminars on the process of writing (tying your legs to a chair); the business of writing (you must sell your wares) the practice of writing (you must blog twice per week)… well, I learned that Creativity has a way of presenting itself, regardless of one’s desire for it.

I guess since I am a teacher (married to a speech professor) I am a teensy bit critical of speakers who don’t enunciate or who don’t use their outline –or who throw together some back-pocket-outline the night before. I hate that about myself. Lil-Bit-Crit-O-cal-gal.

I’m critical.

Being critical is not very friendly toward creativity (or learning for that matter),  SO, I knew I had to stop this process, or it would surely stop me.

And then I remembered Rollo May: Creativity often thrives in crisis (this looks like rules/boundaries/constraints)…so knowing this, I take note that my first reaction is negative (critical) and tell myself to be more ZEN …

Once I finally get past my own resistance at the conference, I am able to be more accepting of the speakers and what it is they are trying to help me discover.

Not only that, but I was able to feel feelings that I have NOT felt in 20 years. For one: NERVES. Okay, last time I went to the dentist my heart did that Ventricular tachycardia thing (it beats the hell out of your chest!!!) and they put the oxygen mask on me saying, “Should we call 911?” In my mind (altered state to be sure) I answered, “No, I don’t mind dying here. Don’t want to be a bother to anyone. What will the other patients think if the ambulance comes? Won’t that be bad for  business?” But, of course, they blamed me. They said 1) I drank too much coffee that morning  and 2) I was nervous to begin with, and thus, this reaction to the ephedrine/Novocaine was my fault. Not even gonna comment on that.

That heart-beating-out-of-your-chest feeling has been missing in my life (sans this dentist visit) for 20 years…When I sat to pitch to my first agent who possessed an actual face, hells bells if my heart didn’t do the tachycardia thing (thank you MARY LARSEN) and I was Lil-O-Bit-Embarrassed (being a teacher myself) and irritated (because why should I care if an agent bites or not? I have a great day job! Nothing is at stake here!)

But as I went into the Ladies Room for the 3rd time I found myself saying (to anyone who would listen) wow, that was good for me. Good for my brain. New. Different. Almost innovative.

When was the last time I felt NERVOUS? Well, even if I can only remember vaguely…I do remember feeling those nerves before a singing performance, or birthing the 3rd and 4th kid; however, I will NEVER forget how NEW it felt this weekend. Like I had never felt it before. It was that eerie cold ghost-like fluid that kind of ruminates through your body and you find that you can’t breathe, and then you think they can hear it, and so you do what you know you shouldn’t do (say, wow, I’m awfully nervous) drawing more attention to it.

When I was finished, she (the agent) rubbed her temples and her forehead. “Did I give you headache?” I asked. So forthright at forty-eight.

“Just send it to me, will you?” she said, handing me her card.

In the bathroom, even though I suspect every single person got a card from an agent at this conference, I say, “Good for you, Rene. Good for your brain.” I think of my beautiful Grandma in the ‘home’ in the desert and about the lack of stimulation and think how desperately our brains need this type of crisis. This type of “newness.” [OH why, oh why didn’t I go into brain science?]

I feel the timeless force of creativity as it grips me. Not through writing a song, or writing a poignant poem or discovering a moment of truth. No, in nervous panic. Just from breaking routine. From doing something new and out of the ordinary. From a crisis-type situation.

It’s big. So big that it reminds me of when they thrust the oxygen mask on me at the dentist.

Creativity: It’s the phenomenon that keeps the species alive. That propels humanity forward. And I teach about it every day. But today, I got to feel it. It’s pretty scary. It’s pretty powerful. No wonder it keeps us thriving as artists, as people, as a species.

I toast to it tonight as I sip my wine, and Monday when I lie back in my yoga class, I will honor it in deep thought as a sacred connection to something bigger than myself.

That’s all I really want, anyway. To be a part of something larger than myself.

So what if the agent ignores me.

So there is no furtherance of my little fiction novel … so it goes.

I was reminded of why I care so deeply about creativity and the creative force.

I need it.

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