Tuesday, April 28, 2015

What is Creativity - 6

The sensation of flow involves a sense of "otherness." When we're in flow, we're not the self we've become accustomed to. If we're writers, words seem to appear on the page "out of nowhere." If we're inventors, the idea for a new product seems to come to us "out of the blue." Not from inside us, but from some mysterious source outside us.

Little wonder then that, for millennia, both the arts and the sciences were thought to be divinely inspired. The first dances were probably physical attempts to connect with the gods of war, of rain, of fertility. In Greek mythology, the Muses were the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne (memory). Hesiod lists nine Muses, each a goddess who was responsible for inspiring and protecting a different art or science. Terpsichore took care of dance; Urania had charge of astronomy.

In the Roman Catholic Church, St. Vitus became the patron saint of dance, St. Dominic the patron saint of astronomy. They were responsible for teaching dancers and astronomers and also for interceding with God on their behalf.

Today, writers, fine artists, fashion designers often speak of the necessity of a muse to inspire them, whether that muse is an actual person or a mystical being. Some speak of channeling spirit guides or angels. Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way, one of the ten best-selling self-help books of all time, is based on engaging God, The Great Creator, in our creative process.

All of these attempts to explain creativity depend on a higher power, a being other than ourselves.

But what if the rain dance doesn't bring rain? What if the words that seemed to flow onto the page are deleted by an editor? What if the inspired product fails in the marketplace?

To be continued.


  1. Carol! I have literally said words almost identical to "If we're writers, words seem to appear on the page "out of nowhere."" I had a friend ask me how I came up with my poetry. I told him that the sheet of paper was to me as a canvas was to an artist and I would envision words on it and then simply write them down, just as I believe an artist would before painting on a canvas. I have no muse for my writing. I sit down, and I write. I wanted to share one of my many experiences with you.

    1. NIcole, thanks for sharing that experience. That's the first time I've thought of writing that way. I had a story, "The Boys in the Photograph," published in camel city dispatch Sunday, and someone told me last night that they could see the photograph. I think that my process is to go outside myself into the place I'm trying to describe. put myself inside a place that I'm trying to describe.