Reclaiming the Creative Spirit

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There was a time when I created because of “the jazz.”  This is my own term for my creative spirit.  It’s hard to quantify an energy that comes from the very act of creation driven by the anticipation of sharing that creation with others.  For me “the jazz” lived a long time ago, when I was a child, when I was a teenager, when I was just learning to be an adult.

As kid I started my first book, “The House in the Field” based on a heroic nightmare I had. I would pound away at my 1908 Underwood typewriter until my ten-year-old fingers were too sore to type.  I never finished it, but there was no deadline and no “in order to make money” I just had story that had to be told. That drove me through lots of finger pain.

When I grew older I discovered the early personal computer.  I would write programs in paper notebooks to take to school and type into the TRS-80 with cassette drive that the school had been given.   Later I would write programs that sometimes took weeks of work.  One of my largest projects was an old text adventure for the Commodore PET computer,  “Escape from Nightmare Manor”.   This was writing, storytelling and programming.  The code was written in  my paper notebook while I was attending Western Washington University during the week, then on the weekend I would type my program into the computers at the Pacific Science Center where I worked.  Again, I made no money from this, it was a passion to create a more interesting adventure for people to play on the computer. When completed, I watched people pay over $50 in computer time rental just to solve my adventure game.  Affirmation like that will nurture the creative spirit.

At age 22 it was easy to feel unstoppable.  I knew that I could accomplish any task and that it is worth the cost in time.  Then IT came, FAILURE.  The truth that I am stoppable, that after tens of hours and lost opportunities, the result can be failure.  It was in 1985 that I discovered failure.  Not a small failure, but a large visible failed computer project that created large amounts of pressure.   For 26 years my spontaneous creative spirit was lost to me.

That led me to adapt and move towards managing and fixing, vs creating on a larger scale. If you can’t get “the jazz“, then getting praise is almost as good. It turns out I am good at managing things and finding solutions to problems.  It can even be fun.  However, much of this has been driven by deadlines and creating a good impression for my partners and employers.  That is not “the jazz.”

Understanding where I became stopped was only the first step. I am thankful for the classes I have taken with Context International and Landmark Education. The classes they offer are about what stops people and what empowers people. In these classes I had identified 1985 as where I became stopped.  Where “the jazz” died.   But I didn’t know how to reclaim that spontaneous creativity.

For years I had tried to envision a future as a writer that was based on the exciting results.  Results that should make me want to write like being published, being red and being paid.  I used to say my goal was immortality, to be the bane of school kids long after I am dead.  I am talking about the immortality of Shakespeare.  However that is not “the jazz”. Any motivation that includes the words “should make” will kill the creative spirit.

Then last week everything changed.  I was again in a Landmark Education seminar where I finally touched “the jazz” again.  One moment it was out of reach and the next I am sitting in class twitchy from the creative need and energy I discovered when I reclaimed the mindset emtices creativity just to create.  In that moment, I was able to envision waking up as a writer and exactly how that looks.  It doesn’t look like being published or red, it is the day to day work of growing a paper manuscript on the desk.

This is my symbolism,  so I am sure the idea of a stack of white paper on a desk won’t trigger for you what is has for me . Yet this is the image that I came up with in class.  One of the most important things I have gotten from my classes with Landmark Education is how much we are willing to give up to avoid risk and pain.  The problem is risk is good, it is the price of commitment.  Even when done in kindness, that which removes risk, also dilutes commitment. Without commitment, “the jazz.” dies.

Sitting there, I realized I had been living into a future that ranged from ‘technology-marketing-professional’ to ‘unemployed-technology-marketing-professional’.  I enjoy the work, and I am pretty good at it.  I will likely be doing that “in order to” make money, until I am published.  But even now Being Writer is driving me forward in other stalled creative projects that are now moving forward.  More importantly, I am declaring that Being Writer will soon pay the bills.

This blog declares  my newly reclaimed creative spirit.  This blog is part of me BEING WRITER.

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