Art, Creativity, and Me

From the get-go, by the title alone, this is a very introspective and selfish piece of writing. For that, despite the personal nature of this website, I apologize.

I've been trying to sort out my thoughts on creative processes for some time now, and I've particularly attempted to reconcile my perceived creative impotence with the strong creative urges I feel. Well I can tell you now that I still haven't sorted out said thoughts, but I figured starting some writing on the topic would be as good a springboard as any to get some of these ideas out of my head. At least after this I can look back on what I wrote and start to filter through that which sounds inane, unclear, or nonsensical and refine my understanding. Here I go, diving right in.

From my earliest memories (hinted at in some earlier posts, no doubt) there's been this great struggle in my mind between the left and right brain, the creative and the academic. By the age of four I was building Lego objects, and identifying dinosaurs by their right names at the Museum of Natural History in Manhattan. As I continued through childhood I could just as likely be found drawing aircraft and cartoons as watching Mr. Wizard. It wasn't until I was in the middle of high school that I felt I might need to choose between the two sides of my personality (an errant notion, to be sure, but what I thought none-the-less). I figured I could keep my creative inclinations as hobbies while I pursued more "practical" roads in the sciences, so by my junior year I decided engineering was where I was headed.

From the start, though, I stuck with right-brained activities in college. I may have abandoned drawing at this point, but I still played guitar and had recently discovered an affinity for singing. Though I changed majors to information systems halfway through school, I kept playing music, and my introduction to Valerie (before she was Mrs. Warshaw) also opened my eyes to the beauty of architecture, design, handcraft, modern art, and so much of the visual spectrum I'd missed out on. By the time I'd graduated and entered the work force, a great deal of my attention was absorbed by the products of artistic expression, be it theater, painting, music, or furniture design.

But something still felt like it was missing...

You see, participating in artistic pursuits doesn't equal creativity. The ability to play the guitar is not the same as the ability to write music forthe guitar. Appreciation for photography is not the same as having an eye for visual composition. Now a new layer of complexity had come into focus for my artistic frustration. I not only wanted to be immersed in the world of creativity; I wanted to create.

The problem is, as I see it, my lack of real creative ability - at least so far. My attempts to realize songs or lyrics failed miserably in the form of cheesy rhyme schemes and trite chord progressions. My feeble adventures trying to return to pencil drawing did little more than to remind me of the chasm that separated my skill from real talent. Now I play at photography, but I have yet to see how that plays out. We'll see. I still haven't taken any pictures that mean anything. Most of my work to date may as well be snap shots taken with a quality lens.

All of this makes me wonder what it is that develops into expressive ability within artists of various types. Is it poverty? Hardship? Mental instability? I've had a pretty easy life, so perhaps...No, certainly it's no list of causes so simple, but it's tempting for me to associate artistic greatness with suffering or heartache.

The funny thing to me is how this post itself serves as evidence to my point. You see, I'd intended to somehow connect my creative tendency with my history and my experience of certain art forms, but instead I've spent half the writing on my formative years and self-consciously abbreviated the real crux of what I wanted to say. At least I can say that prose was never one of those creative pursuits which I, well, pursued.

Anyway, I've written over 700 words already - far longer than my average post - so I'm sure many of my readers have lost interest by now. At any rate, I'll never give up my search for real artistic experience, and if I'm lucky, some of it may be my own.