On Creativity

What brings out your inner muse?

Okay, before we go any further, if you haven’t seen or heard or read Elizabeth Gilbert‘s amazing TedTalk on creative genius, click one of the links below. Or search on the terms. Probably the single best examination of creativity I’ve ever read, heard, or seen.

Transcript: http://www.ted.com/talks/elizabeth_gilbert_on_genius/transcript?language=en
View the entire talk at: https://youtu.be/86x-u-tz0MA

…American poet Ruth Stone… would be out working in the fields, and she said she would feel and hear a poem coming at her from over the landscape. And she said it was like a thunderous train of air. And it would come barrelling down at her over the landscape. And she felt it coming, because it would shake the earth under her feet.”

– Ted Talk ‘Your elusive creative genius’ by Elizabeth Gilbert; 10:10 mark

"vintage books" by Linnaea Mallette

Back? Sunrises and sunsets are a sure lure for my Muse. No matter who or what I am dealing with, the rest of the world shrinks and fades and the words begin to flow. Or when I am sitting on the floor between the stacks, paging through a book. Any book. The smell, the weighty presence of the volumes around me is, well, nothing short of magical.

Standing in the basement of the Huntsville Public Library, between the stacks–some people hated being down there. Sent to retrieve a tome or periodical, they would race out of the elevator, grab the quest item and flee to the perceived safety of the main library floor. But for this gangly, tow-headed reference paige, the stacks were pews and the air filled with the choirs of aged leather, old pulp and ink.

I paused in reverie. Puttered. Lingered, loitered… lollygagged. The scent of creation filled my lungs, my mind raced and on at least one occasion I might have even danced. Might have. Allegedly. Later, in the break room, I’d take dictation from a muse fueled by benzaldehyde and vanillin.

If only it was always that easy. I mean, you have to catch a sunrise or sunset. 
Public libraries and brick and mortars aren’t dead yet. There are some wonderful used book stores around, and, when all else fails, my own books. Still, my beloved stacks are getting harder and harder to find.

"magic-wave" by Piotr SiedleckiLately I’ve kept my old phone as a dedicated voice recorder. And invariably, in the middle of a long commute, my muse overcomes their shyness. I tap record and, eyes back on the road, try to ride the wave of inspiration until I exit cleanly or it crashes down around me.

The fun comes when, later on, I try to transcribe the recording. And hear Charlie Brown’s teacher. Funny, the background noises are crisp and clear. Okay, decidedly not funny to me. But my Muse is in stitches. Next time, it seems to say, you will pull over and give me the attention I deserve, with good old fashioned pen–preferable fountain–and paper.

What works for you?