12 April 2008

The Door is Always Open To My Creativity by Kathy Tilghman Kluge

Where does my creativity come from?
I don’t know how to speak about a lifelong pursuit of the creative writing life. I have been on this journey for many years, approximately 30. I have had many questions along this path, but the answer to a question that has always eluded me is this: how do I access more of my creativity? How can I become a better writer? It’s a mysterious question, granted, with probably a different answer for each writer who has ever written.

I want to know where to find my creativity and how to access more of it in order to write well. Where does my creative juice originate? Where can I tap into that flow? Is there a “creativity fountain” similar to the enigmatic (but nonexistent) fountain of youth located in a non-local, place? Once I find it, how can I revisit it and tap into its magic any time I want---forever?

I have searched for the answer to these questions in a myriad of ways including, but not limited to: taking creative writing courses, studying with writers, being a member of writing groups, attending writing retreats, increasing my vocabulary, buying voice activated computer software, buying shelves full of how-to writing books, barricading myself in my room to write, reading what other writers have done to increase their creativity and writing skills, and the list goes on ad infinitum. I have never found the answer to my questions: no book, writing friend, classroom, writing curriculum, course instructor, has ever been able to give a definitive answer to accessing the creative source dilemma.

My creativity room has no walls, just an open door.
My creativity room has no walls, just an open door.However, while in a conversation about this question with another writer friend, an image came into my mind as we talked. The image was this: I am inside a room with four walls, a ceiling, a door, and a window. Someone has told me to figure out my own answer to the question while in this creativity room.

Ideas emerged within me. I could dig myself out, pull the floor tiles up and crawl out, pick the lock on the door or window, or climb out the window, and escape to the vast sea of creativity below. I’m jammed inside this room with my books, teachers, writing mentors, friends, computer and software, and I ache to get out of the cramped space. I am too confined and I panic with claustrophobia. I work as hard as I can, for as long as I can, studying, reading, typing, organizing manuscripts, writing, rewriting, editing, rewriting, writing and writing more, until I’m worn to a frazzle.

Yes, over a 30 years, it’s frazzling to do everything I do (do, do, do, produce, produce, produce) and continue working in such cramped space. So, I dig in again, and dig and dig and dig, and study, read, write all the while, all the while gasping for air, for relief from the restricted space. I am desperate to open a window, escape the writing room before it becomes my writing tomb.

And yet, I know logically that nothing in the room--- its floor, walls, window and door can truly imprison me; but yet I scream because I know intuitively that creativity is supposed to free you, enliven you, and awaken your senses -- not superimpose artificial limits.

Why do I continue to think that this room with no walls and an open door imprisons me?
And yet, I mistakenly believe my own creativity has done this to me, but within me there is a spark of realization that I have set my own limit. Not knowingly, of course, but unwittingly, subconsciously, I have imposed limits on myself.

So, to be rid of the demons of self-imprisonment, I throw books on the floor, pound on the walls and scream, "Let me out, let me out, let me out of this room! It’s not working for me any more and all my creativity is leaking out of me." but nobody can hear me.

"Please, let me out," I beg to the Universe. Seemingly to no avail. But slowly my inner and outer storms quiet; it is the calm after the storm.

I look around the room and examine the door and the doorknob. I eye the messiness of the room that makes me want to flee even quicker. I pace the room like a tiger in a cage and accidentally bump against the doorknob, and I hear its faint click -- a click that urges me to turn the knob. I take hold and turn it and, to my dismay, the door yields.

Breaking Free!
Like that, I have opened the door that I assumed was locked during my entire “sentence” (no pun intended!) in the creative writing room and walked out a free woman---free to create as I want, what I want, how I want and when I want. The door had always been open.

Before I went on my merry writing way, I looked behind me to give my writing room crammed with the accoutrements of my former writing life a farewell glance. Before I leap into the free and open writing world before me, I remind myself that the door was never locked and that it was I who could have opened it myself any time I chose.

But one more thought crosses my mind as I jump free and it is this: As I leave the room and its door behind me, I see that I never even needed the walls.
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