Friday, November 23, 2012

Beginner's Mind

This is my first blog post, and staring at this empty page in Blogger, I'm trying to collect my thoughts on how this should post should feel, look and what it should convey.  Let's step back as to why I'm starting this blog in the first place.  After many years of doing writing that I have not necessarily enjoyed for work and the mundane aspects of life, I'm finally looking to writing as a potential creative outlet, and a way to move forward with my own journey as a person.  I'm a middle-aged guy, who has had a relatively interesting career in the I.T. field for a long time, and yeah, you might say I'm having a bit of the mid-life "stuff" going on this year which has motivated me to reach out into quite a few different areas and consider the whole notion of creativity.  I haven't felt that rush of creativity in my work in a long time and thus the research here on its importance for the human spirit, and the different ways to practice with creativity.  I guess you could say with the goal of becoming a more complete and happy person, and to be of better service to my family and this troubled world.

I've always been a pretty avid reader and the plan is to talk about some of the books I'm reading here in this blog, particularly on writing, and and try and share ideas and the good and inspirational things I'm finding in them.  The hope is that I can distill thoughts here, and maybe get some feedback from people on their experiences with writing, and hopefully suggestions, etc.  I've always had a deep appreciation for the writing of others.  I have way more books around than I have yet read, and they're not from the library surprisingly... there's the nostalgia of spending an entire afternoon in the big downtown library of my hometown, and bringing home a dozen books at a time. Funny, that is something long missed (thank you, Blogger).

So last weekend as I started researching this writing and creative outlet topic, and came across the mention of Brenda Ueland's book, If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit. I picked it up and like many of you who have read it, found delight right away in the inspirational tone.  I knew that I had found a great resource when I read her points on Vincent van Gogh:

"To show that the creative impulse of Van Gogh, a great genius, was simply loving what he saw and then wanting to share it with others, not for the purpose of showing off, but out of generosity, I will tell you a few things he said. I want to show you that what he had in him is just what you all have in yourselves and should let out…
"The world only concerns me so far as I feel a certain debt and duty towards it and out of gratitude want to leave some souvenir in the shape of drawings or pictures—not made to please a certain tendency in art, but to express sincere human feeling."  (Vincent van Gogh)
You can see how Van Gogh’s simple impulse is in all of us. But in us it is clouded over and confused with notions such as: will the work be good or bad? or would it be Art? or would it be modernistic enough and not academical? and would it sell? would it be economically sound to put the time in trying to do it?…
Yes, it has made me like working to see that writing is not a performance but a generosity…

I think there is something necessary and life-giving about creative work.. a state of excitement. And it is like a faucet: nothing comes unless you turn it on, and the more you turn it on, the more comes.

It is our nasty twentieth century materialism that makes us feel: what is the use of writing, painting, etc., unless one has an audience or gets cash for it? Socrates and the men of the Renaissance did so much because the rewards were intrinsic, i.e., the enlargement of the soul… Socrates and the Greeks decided that a man’s life should be devoted to “the tendance of the Soul” (Soul included intelligence, imagination, spirit, understanding, personality) for the soul lived eternally, in all probability…

And so now I have established reasons why you should work from now on until you die, with real love and imagination and intelligence, at your writing or whatever work it is that you care about. If you do that, out of the mountains that you write some mole hills will be published. Or you may make a fortune and win the Nobel Prize. But if nothing is ever published at all and you never make a cent, just the same it will be good that you have worked."
 Ah, Brenda, thank you for your inspiration and this gem of a book you wrote.

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