Thursday, January 24, 2013

Creativity and trust

Sometimes, my brain is like a saturated chemical solution. Just a drop of the right chemical will trigger the precipitation of some strange new compound. I never know when these drops will hit me, and they leave me scrambling for something to write the precipitate down on.

I was reading a thread over in the self-publishing forum at Absolute Write and someone said (paraphrasing): So we published Something Serious and promoted it all we could but only sold a dozen copies... and later we published a m/m romance without telling anybody at all. Before we knew it, it was selling a dozen copies a day! how about them apples!

With that certain weary sarcasm, I thought, obviously I should be writing m/m romance.

BLAM. Precipitate tumbling out of solution.

Followed by the thought, oh come on I just finished a huge freaking romance and I want to write something else. I can sit around and wish to write transcendently philosophical science fiction all I like, but that doesn't set off a chain reaction in my head. Or not yet, at least.

I'm not the sort of person who's prone to turning mystical (or transcendently philosophical, for that matter) but of late I have found my way to understanding something that a painter once said to me. I'd sat at a panel he gave, in which he wondered aloud about large sailing ships -- really huge ones, beyond the triremes -- and how little luck he'd had with research. My companion and I went up afterwards to tell him about the Chinese treasure fleet that was sent out just before China destroyed its navy. He thanked us for the information, and we commented on how we'd only just learned about the treasure fleet ourselves, what were the chances we'd be able to answer his question? He said that he had trusted the universe would bring him what he needed for his art, and it had.

Over the years since then, I've come to see that he's right in a certain way. I've gotten the sense that trust is deeply involved in creativity. Trusting my gut. Trusting the universe. Which doesn't come easy, because I'm well aware the universe doesn't give a damn about me.

I've said, here and there, that I've finally given myself over to the muse. To creativity. The universe, perhaps. Ray Bradbury's essay "Run Fast, Stand Still" left me at the bottom of the stairs, thirty years ago, and asked if I would invite the monster down (read it here, to understand) -- and I did. Finally. Accepted its frightening, empowering embrace.

I guess it follows that it would challenge my trust, like this. M/M romance, it wants. Okay, let's develop the idea and see what happens. But if this doesn't work, it's back to science fiction.


Liz said...

Of course the universe gives a damn about you. The universe loves you. But you have to trust that before you'll see evidence of it.

I know what you mean about trusting the muse. And going where the muse takes you. It seems to work much easier when you do.

L. Blankenship said...

Respectfully, I'd parse that as: God cares about me, but God =/= the universe.

Which is as close to talking about religion as I'd want to get. I'm not going to talk about politics, either. Just for the record.

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