Archive for the ‘The Creative Process’ Category

Sunday, March 20, 2011 (1:52am)

  

I have always loved books. Some of my earliest childhood memories revolved around reading. I became a believer in Jesus after reading the Bible by myself without a big whop-de-do. After that I had an insatiable urge to get to know the Jesus I found there better. I was fortunate to find great authors who acted like signposts to point me in the right direction. I found so many quotes that inspired me and encouraged me in the faith. I was thinking that it would be nice to share some of those voices here on my blog and to share some of the things that have been meaningful to me over the years.

I thought I would start with a few quotes from a woman named Elizabeth Rooney. Many years ago I read a book called Bright Legacy. (I believe the book is out of print now but I have found copies of it used on amazon.) In it, several well-known Christian women wrote about another woman who had deeply touched their lives. One of my favorite authors, poet Luci Shaw was one of the contributors. She wrote about Elizabeth. She was a woman she met at one of her poetry workshops. Over time they struck up a friendship and Luci Shaw wrote about her surprise at finding a woman with an amazing talent for writing poetry which was something she began fairly late in life. In the book they included some of her poetry which was very moving to me. They also included some of her journal entries that I loved. She wrote about her growing love for God and her desire to be with him, and the awkwardness at trying to share that with others. Being a night owl I could relate to her late night encounters with God when she was alone with him. Elizabeth passed away several years ago, but her legacy continues through the books of her poetry that her daughter published after her death. Several years ago I contacted her and ordered the poetry books. I was able to tell her how much her mother’s writing encouraged me over the years. You can find her family’s website at Bingham farm by typing her name into google or follow the link here :http://www.brighamfarm.com/index.html

 

On the website you’ll also find examples of her exquisite poetry. Here are just a few quotes from her journal I appreciated:

“God intends us for himself and with our eager cooperation or with our rebellious reluctance he works to achieve this. He respects the reluctance; he will hint and then wait, ask and then wait, urge and then wait. And wait and wait!”

“This evening my heart and veins and arteries and my whole system have been filled with a joyousness I can hardly contain. I want to pray or read but feel as though I shall explode. I need to tell someone how wonderful God is!”

“Four A.M. I got up and found it had stopped snowing, leaving about a foot of new-fallen snow in great white billows under a full moon. Mike woke up and asked what I was going to do and I said, ‘Go to the bathroom,’ which was a deception, since after I went to the bathroom I was going to pray and write and wander about as usual. I have to stop lying to people about how much God means to me, just because I’m embarrassed by it or think they won’t understand. What if Sts. Peter and Paul had acted like that? Stroke victims have to practice and practice speaking in order to learn to speak again. I need to practice speaking about God, his love, his immanence, his active presence, his willingness to participate in our lives if we’ll only let him.”

Here’s one of her poems:

Wild Geese
Barking and calling courage to each other,
The singing skein sweeps south across the sky.
We hear their legendary cry
Saying goodbye to summer swamps and sweetness.
They know some ancient mystery of weather,
Of daring and of caring for each other,
Which we have lost.
Shrouded in sheets and city streets,
Our stifled hearts half waken at their sound.Something within us trembles, flaps its wings,
Falls back against the ground.
We dress for breakfast, start the daily round
And wonder, why we must know only fenced yards,
And shelled corn, until we die?

10/16/78

©1978 Elizabeth Rooney

From Storing September

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Tonight I’m sitting here thinking about living life as a creative person.  I’ve pretty much made a living being creative my whole life. Even in high school I missed the job at Jack in the Box, serving up hamburgers and things that vaguely resemble tacos using my photography to make money.  I learned early on that I could photograph all the people who tended to be self absorbed… i.e. the people in drama and the various music groups, and when I was really desperate… the jocks. Then I would make 8 x 10’s of them and sell the prints to them. It beat the heck out of the alternative, and gave me time to pursue my other interests instead.  I worked hard to become a better photographer and to become better at the darkroom work to support it. 

I also went out of my way to get better as a musician. Since my parents refused to spring for music lessons I worked at playing the bass so I could play with guitarists that were better than me so I could watch them and learn from them. I went to concerts and watched the guitarists, trying to glean anything I could from their playing. I spent hours alone practicing… and slowly but surely I got better.

So many people I know are wanting to pursue music or other creative endeavors, but they don’t want to put in the hours it takes to hone their craft. I see that all the time as a music teacher. A lot of my students want to be able to play well. Few of them are willing to put in the extra effort to go from being able to play through something, to making it great. It’s the difference between creating like you are cramming for a test, or creating like you want to be able to play it for life.

We’re a society of people who are rushing from thing to thing at a breakneck pace, with constant noise and stimulation. There’s always the T.V., or the iPod or the cell phone… something to distract us from just being quiet in the moment. The creative process needs time to happen. We need to have time to think… to imagine… to write, to try different ideas on our instruments.  I want to continue to improve as a musician, as a photographer and as a writer. To do that I have to step away from the distractions and make the time to actually do it.

You can open the entertainment section in any paper in any city and look at the ads for people playing locally. A lot of them will not be that good. But they are there playing because they had the creative work ethic to take the time to rehearse and show up. If we are serious we need to take the time pursue the creative part of our life and not allow it to get sidetracked by all the other things competing for our time.

Heather Youmans, one of my bass students, is a great example of being willing to work hard to pursue her creative dream. In the midst of a crazy academic load in high school, she’s faithfully plugged away at honing her craft creatively. She’s spent years developing her voice and her acting and dancing talents. She’s really applied herself to the nuts and bolts of bass playing as well. She’s taken the time to do the “hard boring part” of it all. She’s worked at the scales and the music theory. She’s spent the time working at developing her ear and learning to read music. Along the way she’s become a good bass player who can actually sing, front a band, and play bass all at the same time. She’s been doing soundtrack work for several years and her own album is releasing soon. It hasn’t been easy. She’s spent a lot of hours practicing. She’s spent a lot of hours in the studio and rehearsing. But she’s ready. I have other students who want to be musicians or singers that I’ve been teaching as long as I’ve been teaching Heather. They are no closer to their dream though because while she’s been hard at work they’ve been busy with other things and spending most of their down time partying.

Over the years I’ve known a huge number of incredibly naturally talented people who’ve gotten no where because they weren’t willing to put the extra work in to achieve greatness. I’ve also known a lot of people who’ve developed into really good players and have had success creatively because while they were less naturally gifted, they had a hunger… a passion to develop their art and they took the time to perfect their craft.

I want to keep creating. I never want to rest on what I’ve done in the past. God save me from the incessant noise and distractions that go on all around me. Help me to take the time to work at my craft as well. May I continue to find ways to encourage my other students to be more like Heather and put elbow grease to their dreams.

Here’s Heather’s current music video: