Tuesday, July 13, 2021

More on creativity

by Rick Blechta

Just under this post is one by Tom Kies, and I strongly suggest you read it. Not only is it excellent, but my post this week is riffing off it.

For longer than I can remember I’ve had people telling me how creative I am. 

I find it sort of embarrassing, actually, since I was brought up not to be conceited and being singled out for praise makes me feel as if I am being conceited if I acknowledge it.

Identifying first as a musician — since I’ve been at it by far the longest — a certain amount of creativity has to be acknowledged, otherwise you wouldn’t be much of a musician. Every musical phrase, every note to be honest, has to be created which is a thoughtful process if you wish to do it well.

But too much music can become a problem. It did for me.

When I was 38, after doing music seemingly 24/7 for 20 years, I burnt out. At that point, I was still teaching full-time in schools as well as conducting a high-end ensemble at the Royal Conservatory on Saturdays, but it began taking a toll on me psychologically. My wife, also a musician, suggested I find something else to do in my spare time. She knew I couldn’t walk away from my two jobs, but she also guessed that I needed some form of hobby or interest that had no musical component.

Easier said than done. I spent several months trying to figure out what that might be. Eventually I came to writing, something at which I’d always been pretty good. I wrote three interconnected baseball-themed short stories that I’ve thankfully lost track of. The characters were interesting as were the plots, but the writing itself was, shall I say, underdeveloped.

After reading a few books on how to write and pulling out the notes from a university creative writing course I took, I sort of got better at it.

I decided to write a mystery short story. Six months later, I realized I was no good at this mainly because my short story was 315 pages. I got up the nerve to show my novel to a few people, got some positive feedback, then found an editor to help me.

But midway through this process, I realized how happy and content I now was. My daily musical jobs didn’t bother me as much. I was no longer feeling burnt out. In fact, every night I couldn’t wait until the boys were in bed so I could get down to my created world.

And that, my friends, wraps around to what Tom said at the end of his post. Feeling creative and indulging it — no matter what it might involve — does something good deep inside us. In fact I can’t think of a single friend who has some sort of passion in life that isn’t also pretty darn happy.

Tom is so right.


Thomas Kies said...

Excellent post, Rick. I'm going to have my wife read it and tell her, "There, someone thinks I'm right."

Rick Blechta said...

Thanks, Tom -- and you are right!