From the quote file:
"The world is made less of nouns than of verbs. It doesn't consist merely in objects and things; it is filled with useful, playful, and intriguing opportunities."
—James Hillman, The Soul's Code
Lately my life has certainly had a high verb count. Things are calmer this week, an eye in the storm. A hurry up and wait week.
Some days, though, my verbs are quite minimal: eat, sleep, read, watch—and a few other basic body verbs that really have no place in a public blog. Concentrated periods of inactivism are just as important as activism. Some days I have the need for serious sloth because most days, especially during the week, it feels like I'm burning the candle at both ends, even when I'm not crashing at work, doing rewrites, moving offices, etc., etc., ad nauseam.
Maybe that's an artist thing? No matter what art you're doing, even if you consider it a craft, I think artists have a tendency to never truly be inactive. The mind is always churning. Even when we're asleep, even when we're holding conversations on other topics, below the surface that other channel is working—like a vast aquifer, never still, always pushing slowly and infinitely towards the sea.
Maybe that's a me thing? I've talked to other artists/craftists, though, who have a similar duality, a feeling of things always pushing, of things moving even when we want them to stop, of ideas swimming and brewing and fermenting. I guess that's the need thing, the need to do art, the can't-live-without-it thing. In some ways it makes us (me) crazy, in other ways it makes us (me) sane.
I have an acquaintance who has a schizophrenic brother. She loves drawing parallels between his world and mine. False parallels, I hasten to add. She's fascinated by my process and the fact that characters are always alive in some part of my brain and that they take on a certain reality to me. Although unlike her brother, I can tell the difference between the things I create and consensus reality. Most days. :-) She doesn't understand the creative process, or at least not this deep need to do creative things. She thinks creativity is something you discover one day, like someone shows you how to sew and suddenly your hands know how to make astonishing quilts as if by magic. She laments not being creative and thinks that the reason she's not is that she's just never found the thing that will unlock her creativity. Maybe she's right, but from where I'm sitting, I think she's got it backwards. The creativity comes first, the vehicle for its expression comes second. Creativity is an activist process, not a passive one. It doesn't wait to be discovered. It's intrinsic and ongoing, insist, persistent—a good stopping off point on the road to the loony bin.
I don't think creative people are better human beings then other folks. Some of the most miserable, messed up people I know are highly creative; also some of the best people I know. Which is by way of saying that quality of personality, moral character, all that stuff, are separate issues. Creativity is just another aspect of being human.
Although it does feel like a divine fire sometimes when your brain is burning and your hand can't get the ideas down fast enough. I don't know what it is, frankly. But I do know certain aspects of it quite well: creativity is mostly about letting go and allowing, of getting out of the way and letting it flow through, about not second guessing and trying to control until the thing is well and truly outside of you and you can then enforce all the damned control and second-guessing your left brain is itching for. It's that flow that I live for, though. It's that great, non-judging activist plunge into the void that makes everything else worthwhile.
So, in that sense, maybe my acquaintance is right: she's never found the thing that allows her to let go of control and give herself permission. Maybe she doesn't lack creativity (because the egalitarian in me says everyone has some creative spark). Maybe she just can't let go. I don't know. I operate on faith and instinct. Analysis is always secondary, always a rewrite.