Monday, July 9, 2012

Passing On A Belief: Creativity

I don't know if I've ever told you this, but I spent the better part of a decade working in different aspects of advertising, and in each of those jobs, I held jobs that were not considered creative. So much so that at the last one, I would not be invited to meetings, my ideas would be shit on, and I would even be told on a very regular (almost daily) basis that, I was not just "not a creative," but, "Laura, you're not creative."

Don't feel sorry for me because of someone else's words, but instead, kick my ass for believing it.

That's right. I spent ten years believing I am not creative.

I believed it so much it became a part of me. I told myself the same thing, in agreement with the theme, over and over so that it was, indeed, my story.

And then something interesting happened.

I got laid off.

And I started pushing, in tiny ways, my creativity.

I wrote.

I consulted.

I brainstormed.

And people paid me to do it.

"Well, fuck YOU, lady who fed me the non-creative line every damned day of my life," I started to think on a daily basis.

Then I let myself get really mad.

And I stayed mad for a few more years. (You know, 'cause we have nothing but time to fritter away being mad. What can I say? Sometimes, I'm a total dumb-ass.)

Then I noticed that Crystal spends the vast majority of her spare time in creative pursuits (often with amazing outcomes), as do Sarah and Maria. (HI, GIRLS! I LOVE YOU!) (HI, GREENER! I LOVE YOU, TOO ... YOU'RE MY FAVORITE SCIENTIST! EXCEPT FOR MAYBE THAT HOT GUY THAT KNOWS STUFF ABOUT PEOPLE BEING INFESTED WITH BUGS AND SHIT, 'CAUSE HE'S HOT. EVEN IF HE IS CANADIAN.)

Sorry. I don't know why I yelled for so long. I really just wanted the girls' attention. I love them. In fact, I love them like I love mocha cappuccino peanut butter.

OK, so ... the people I spend the majority of time with were expressing themselves in the fresh, fearless ways, and I was fucking playing Tetris.

Yeah. That needed to stop.

So I started blogging here in earnest. (Aside: Just typing his name (I know it's a homophone, calm down) makes my heart squeeze a little, thinking about Mr. Borgnine. I'm gonna miss those crazy-ass eyebrows and public declarations of frequent masturbation.)

But blogging was a little too personal. I wasn't ready to really open 'er up, and at the time, I felt like I needed to. (Lucky for you, I now realize sharing is a choice, not a directive.)

So I got a camera to hide behind.

And 365 was born.

Then I got a job.

And it became more like 195 Snapshots.

Photography is fun, but the process of lighting, aperture, filligree, pedigree and whatever else bedknobs and broomsticks mumbo-jumbo that goes into a great shot proved to be much too tiring to do daily, especially whilst holding down a job I dig. And taking 75 photos in a day and going through those 75 photos is a crevasse I dare not look down while crossing.

Right around this time, Lee started creating wooden frames out of reclaimed wood. They have a palpable honesty to them. They're beautiful. They're artful. And I was inspired.

One day, on the drive home from a visit to Maria's store, Eco Chic, I had a vision. It was a wooden bookmark, wafer thin and engraved with witty sayings, or perhaps just sanded silky-smooth and sealed. Bad Diddy was born. I make reclaimed wood bookmarks. And signs. And I LOVE it. Best of all, I'm not mad any more. I realized that in order to push me into doing something that's really and truly an expression of me, rather than a mere reflection of the world around me, I had to get mad. I had to look it over, turning the mad in my hands, inspecting it from every angle like a Rubiks Cube in order to push myself. 

One night, as I was Dremeling my little heart out and mentally solving the creativity Rubiks Cube, I was working on four specific angles: where it comes from, what turns it up, what shuts it down, what keeps it going.

And I realized that for me, it was about belief. Faith, even.

Faith that I was created to create. And if that was the one abiding tenet, then my marching orders were clear: Wade in, dummy!

I also realized that I never stopped being creative. Every time I've ever been witty, every word I've ever written, any time I've ever handwritten a card in cursive ('cause it's not a waste, CRYSTAL!) or any time I've ever "Weird Al'd" a song ... that was creativity. If we factor in the new and exciting ways to curse, well, hell on a biscuit; we're talking non-stop crea-fuckin'-tivity. 

Which got me to thinking about where and why my beliefs regarding my own innate creativity went askew.

For me, I believe it was a lack of communication along the way. I don't know that among the years of just trying to survive, to make sure everybody made it through the day, not a ton of importance was placed on making things. That's not to say we weren't allowed to create things. We certainly were. If we asked, we were told we could bake, sew, paint and draw to our hearts' contents. My older sister, (HI, BEESWAX STINKO!) danced. I have a very specific memory of Heather, my little sister, (HI, DAHLING!) making all sorts of things with popsicle sticks, glitter and muffin liners. (Kitty party hat, anyone?) I think it wasn't pushed because things like eating, getting to school and being kind to one another were of greater importance in our day-to-day. Of course, it could be that I'm a middle child and need constant reassurance. (This is the part where you feel sorry for my husband, trust me.)

Thinking about my childhood made me think about one of the little girls in my life, our niece Bergen.

She has wonderful parents. Attentive, encouraging, loving. That kid is never going to think she's incapable of doing anything because of those two. It makes me smile just thinking about it.

But what if?

What if, as little girls, we all had a front and center daily reminder that could grow with us as we became women?

And another idea was born.

So with one of my photos of a peony from our backyard, a frame from Lee, and a vinyl print from Shortprinter, I made B. a gallery wrap to hang on her bedroom wall. Something I hope she reads every day of her life. Something I hope she hangs up when she gets her own place, and holds to her heart when someone tries to lie to her face and tell her she is less than. So that she never believes them.


Kate Mund said...

B-E-A-utiful. Thank you, Laura, more than you know.

Katie @Pinke Post said...

This really resonated with me Laura. I've been told I'm not creative in the advertising business too! :) You are beautiful and loved. Thank you.