Friday, 22 February 2013

Guest Blogger No. 3 - Joanna Brown - On Creativity

Further to her first guest post, here's the second from my sister, Joanna:

On Creativity

The only (I’m going to admit it) Salmon Rushdie book I’ve read is a children’s book called ‘Haroun and the Sea of Stories’. That said, this book is of crucial value due to its allegory on the importance of free speech. The title character’s father Rashid, a storyteller to trade, looses the ability to tell stories; his story stream is literally turned off. The man responsible for this is the ruler Khattam-Shud who is described as ‘the arch-enemy of all stories, even of Language itself’. Thus follows a fantastical adventure in which Haroun battles to save his father’s stories.

It’s got me thinking about my own story stream, my own ideas tap. My ideas don’t come to me emblazoned in neon lights. They come whimpering along and, if I’m not quick, disappear before I’ve caught them.

Despite knowing that ideas aren’t everything I am profoundly jealous of those people who seem to have a million ideas. (Don’t think I’m exaggerating, those people exist. Their ideas come from inspiration thunder bolts. They really do.)

But rather than wasting time grumbling I’d do well to face up to the facts.

I do have a tap although admittedly it drips more than it gushes. It’s not really in my brain so much as in my pen, or perhaps less romantically, in my laptop keyboard. Yet despite knowing that my ideas only really start fermenting when I write them down I’m really bad at sitting down to write.

It’s due to a mixture of things- a lack of time perhaps, a lack of confidence, laziness and perhaps a bit of self- censorship. Often I knock ideas down when they’re just starting to crawl. And to continue the baby metaphor, I forget to nurture them and wait for them to grow. If they’re not there ready packaged (not that I suggest we package up our babies) I’m not interested.

I feel like I’m waiting for the big idea: the one which will come fully formed screaming at me down the street, the one which will be perfect and won’t need any hard graft.

It’s not going to happen, is it?


Because writing is work, painting is work. Any kind of creative act needs time and effort. An architect can have the idea for a house but a client won’t be happy until the house is built. An artist is the architect, the builder and all else in between. Ideas are great but they don’t really exist, do they?

There’s a lot of pressure on the arts at the moment. The effect of the arts cuts are making themselves known and the now scrapped EBacc proposals has no arts or culture on the curriculum at all. We have our own Khattam-Shud's who would like to silence us. So let’s not make their jobs any easier. Let’s get working. After all, we don’t want to be the ones to mess it up.

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