Sunday, August 27, 2017

Sunday thoughts (in advance of our retreat)

is like a dog rolling on his back in the grass. 
It's about glory in the commonplace."  
--our own Richard Jesse Watson

Have you thought about your purpose in life? There may be times when the only answer is getting through the day without __ (fill in the blank)__. You may spend a few decades focused primarily on raising compassionate new humans. Not to mention you feel a certain calling to create books.

Most kidlit people want to make books for kids for great reasons, including making the tough business of growing up a bit easier, or to build empathy, for instance. These reasons tend to focus on other people — our society — which is awesome.

But I’m going to say something kind of blasphemous in our circle: I’m not convinced it’s “a final answer” without thinking and talking more deeply about it.

The elephant in the room
I’ve heard both Linda Sue Park and Amanda (A. M.) Jenkins say, in rooms teeming with writers and illustrators, words to this effect: “The elephant in the room is that the vast majority of you will never be published.”

SCBWI focuses on helping you be one of the lucky ones. But.

Regardless of whether we end up in the Widely Read Club, many of us would/will/do continue to create characters and stories. Some find other ways to direct that creative energy, from volunteering for story time to local theatre to baking with abandon. All good. Either way, I think it’s valuable to think about why. Why and why again?

Demons and angels
I raised questions here about considering how your creativity relates to your psyche and your personal demons. An even bigger question — How does your creativity relate to whatever you perceive as a divine power? (Or to the universe or dharma or the Fibonacci sequence or anything else you consider sacred?)

Does your god (or a fecund universe) want you to create? Why? How? What if you don’t accept the first answer that arises, whether from your social or religious (or SCBWI) training, but keep asking why? From this perspective, what counts as good, even sacred, work? What, if anything, doesn’t?

We can be timid about tackling such questions. In fact, in some cultures and traditions, creativity is circumscribed, with some kinds of art off limits. There’s also some pretty interesting research about the relationships between the practice of religion and creative expression, and how they interact. When you think about such questions and perspectives, do you get sad, or curious, or defensive — or motivated?

For many people, the answers are private. But I think others of us can help each other by respectfully sharing our views and intuitions. So I hope you’ll sign up for our ninth annual Weekend on the Water retreat, Inspiration & Motivation for Creatives, which we’ll hold Oct. 13-15, and think about coming to what will likely be the most unusual (and perhaps unattended!) session at that event: Spiritual Connections. We’re also doing some other wild new things this year, including creativity workshops and other ways to create more resonant work. Registration is open now. Go sign up! — and keep musing.

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