The Mystery of Creativity – Even for an Average Guy
I recently listened to an essay featured on NPR’s “This I Believe” called, “How Do You Believe in a Mystery?” by Loudon Wainright III. In it he tried to explain where inspiration for his work comes from. Like others, Mr. Wainright couldn’t really explain how it happened or where or from whom or what it came. That the best, most meaningful moments seem to happen when the mind feels clear from day-to-day stuff and there is a singular groove or clarity to your thinking. In that state, a writer can’t seem to write (or record) fast enough. The key is to be ready to capture it – somehow.
Can this kind of moment or clarity happen to even an average guy who writes songs for his own (and maybe some close friends) enjoyment? I was struck by Mr. Wainright’s essay because it very closely described the feelings I get every once in a while. Recently, I watched a documentary on Bob Dylan and as I sat there with my guitar in my lap, I decided to try and write something, anything that came to my mind… to try and be ‘like Bob’ for a while.
I started by writing down a line that Bob uttered during the program, “I was born far away from where I’m supposed to be. I’ve been looking for my home ever since…” or something near that. From there the words just poured out onto the note card I had laid flat on the back of my guitar. All of the words came to me and were on that note card in about 15 minutes. I was able to capture it as it came ‘through’ me. In my own small world, I think I shared a very similar ‘feeling’ to Mr. Wainright. I was relaxed, focused, and thankful,…and just like Mr. Wainright, I was happy for a few days because I too had experienced a mystery. Where do those thoughts come from?
One day, I played a recording of that song for my older sister. She said it scared her a little because she didn’t expect those thoughts from a suburban, middle-aged Dad. I didn’t know I had those thoughts either. For those fifteen minutes I was someone else who had experienced the mystery of creativity.
That was fun. I hope it comes ‘round again.
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