Friday, January 09, 2009

The Next Chapter – Secret #1: Acknowledging Your Creative Self

I’m taking part in an online book blogging club called The Next Chapter.  This post is part of our discussion about The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women.  Feel free to jump in to the conversation here or with some of the other posts about Secret #1.

I’m so excited to be participating in a book group.  It’s something I’ve always wanted to do.  In fact, it’s even on my life list (listed under ‘Pinups & Pearls’ #19).  This may sound odd to some, but it’s really taking me back to my days at University.  The ones when I had good English lit classes and got to listen to (and occasionally even participate in)really provocative discussions about books and the wonderful worlds they opened up to us.

My Little Crazy Thoughts

First and foremost, I have a hard time putting myself under the creative label.  I usually associate creativity with some sort of visual artistic endeavor or intuitive expression.  I don’t paint or draw.  I have some musical ability but no ability to improvise or compose.  I enjoy dancing, but don’t really think that I excel at that either.  And that’s another thing that I usually associate with creativity – excellence.  It isn’t good enough to simply do something, you’ve got to be good at it too.  But perhaps that just the Virgo in me coming to the surface.

Yet, I still consider myself an ardent admirer of creativity in others and I still feel the need to engage in creating activities.  But, I have also come to realize that I usually thrive with ordered creativity.  I feel that creative calling, but will feel lost when I get there, unless I’ve learned some of the rules of the road that I’m on.  (Even as a child I always felt compelled to colour within the lines).  I guess it’s just one more contradiction to add to my list of personality quirks.

I feel like I’m the thing you look at when you turn the kaleidoscope.  I’m always changing things around and tumbling past this point, on to the next stage and the next and the next.  So, it’s hard to pin down where I am today.  I always am trying to find new ways to change . . . improve . . .evolve.

As I said before, I don’t really feel comfortable putting the ‘creative’ label on.  But, I’m working on accepting myself for who I am and acknowledging that my creativity might not match the stereotypical ‘creative’ label.  I crave order.  Give me lists!  I need to intellectually understand the principles behind the creative process.  I need to unlock the puzzle and deconstruct the process and why it works. 

I’m glad the book works on challenges and specific questions that we think and write about.  I feel like writing is one of my strengths and an area I’d like to continue strengthening.

I Am Here

As Jamie suggested, this is a great time to share where I am in my particular journey to my creative self.

I can’t pin down why or when it all began, but I only remember always questioning my own intuition.  Perhaps that’s one of the childhood memories that has become completely blotted out by time.  Perhaps it is just a function of my shyness.  Whatever is the cause, I’m working on letting go and loosening up.

Looking back, 2008 was a phenomenal year for my creative process.  It started with a little event in 2007 called NaNoWriMo, which lead me to this great podcast about Writing and Wine.  I learned a lot about writing and then jumped into a community of writers, some of whom are just like me.  And I learned a lot.  Then when I did NaNoWriMo again in 2008, I really felt the joy of the process.  I felt like I was a writer, instead of just someone who was writing.

I also have started feeling comfortable with some of my own style choices.  Mostly, my secret has been to stop caring what everyone else in the world might think.  I think the closest to artistry that I get to, is applying my makeup.  And this has been the year that I really started to let myself play, even if it meant standing out a bit (like by wearing orange eye shadow).  (But, last year I also finally found some good instructions and realized that I had fallen in love with steampunk without knowing it.)  We also started decorating our house this past year.  I still let/make L make most of the decisions.  But I think the fact that we have an arcade cabinet in our kitchen speaks a bit to my own creativity too ;)


pen* said...

what a great post. had me gripped from beginning to end and eager to know more about you!

glad you are on this journey!

Stacey said...

Happy to be on this journey with you!

Kavindra said...

Congrats on NaNoWriMo. Many have begun, less have finished :)!

I agree with the Virgo in you too.

Can't wait to see where this journey takes us all!

TesoriTrovati said...

Hello! I just joined this group, and since I don't have my book yet, thought I would get a jump on reading what everyone else had to say. I am so excited to have found all of you! I want to read more! YOu are a very talented writer. I believe that you never know when your next creative opportunity may come, and I am thrilled to be making this journey with you.
Enjoy the day!
Erin, Tesori Trovati Jewelry

Tracy said...

I am a Virgo, too!

Kim said...

I have always thought you were a good writer, so I'm glad that you are continuing to pursue that aspect of your creativity!

I have always thought you were more creative than I was, and I still think that. Good luck with the book blogging group, it sounds like you're enjoying it already!

Genie Sea said...

My dear, your writing ability, your way with words, your captivating tone is creativity at its finest. :)

blisschick said...

Early on, many years ago, when I was first reclaiming my creative self, it all started with paint chips. I LOVE THEM. I love looking at them and taking them home and imagining different colors for different rooms. Now I just let that internal decorator go nuts -- my style is "whimsy!"

My point...I think all of the things you are doing are an excellent sign that your heart has officially cracked open and the light is getting in. Before you know it, you'll radiate like the sun! :)

KathrynAntyr said...

I think we can often think of creativity means making stuff. Creativity for me is a way of life. I'm a creative thinker and approach problem solving creatively.

I think it is wonderful that you did NaNoWriMo. I'm not a writer (although I write) and I'm impressed with those who do write as a practice.

Sacred Suzie said...

It sounds like this last year has helped you embrace writing more, which is a very good choice for a Virgo! Attention to detail is a powerful skill that a lot of people don't have. You just have to let your inner pirate take over now and then, if you so choose.

It's been hard to feel like an artist as a homemaker and if I can do it, I know you can be whatever kind of artist you want to be. I love that you are your own canvas! I'd love to hear more about makeup artistry, I know nothing about makeup and what looks good and what I should be doing.

Lisa said...

My mom used to say, "if you're not going to do it right, don't do it at all." She was pretty much referring to washing dishes or making beds but I often have to fight that idea when I'm doing anything creative. Fortunately, my Pisces self is pretty happy with imperfection. hee

Jenn said...

@Suzie - I think you must be a spiritual divining rod or something, because when you mentioned my 'inner pirate' it felt like the perfectly right description for part of my inner soul. I'm still a total newbie when it comes to makeup stuff. I mostly just like to play. The only problem is that it can become an expensive hobby quite quickly! I used to just stick to neutral tones and keep it understated so it didn't look like I was wearing much makeup at all. But, in the last year I've been playing with colour and some much more dramatic looks and have been having much more fun. Still unsure about a lot of colour choices though. If I manage to take any non-blurry shots, I'll try to blog some of it (with apologies to the few guys who read this blog).

@Lisa - If I followed your mother's philosophy, I'd probably never get any housework done at all. My own mother used to have a similar philosophy and instead of inspiring my sister and I to be great housekeepers, I think we both mostly avoid it. At least in the housekeeping end of things, I've really managed to keep my Virgo tendencies under lock and key and live with a bit of mess and wrinkled laundry.

Britt said...

hi jennifer!
writing is creative!
steampunk (i don't know what that is!) is creative!
your makeup is creative!
letting yourself go (even a bit) is creative!
caring less about the opinion/criticism of others is creative!
those awesome english lit discussions (i was there too!) are for sure creative!
challenging your 'ordered' self is creative!
you are well on your way.
now just grab a colouring book and get RECKLESS!! :)
congratulations on your leap. :)

Secret Wish Jar said...

I completely recognize associating creativity with painting or drawing and also with excellence. I'm learning to let go of those beliefs and just play.

Your way with words is definitely creative, very excited to be on this journey with you and can't wait to read more :)

Lisa PN said...

jenn, as i was reading your post, i kept on thinking that you are a storyteller.

thank you for sharing, i look forward to more shares!