“Yawp” is one of those old words that does not come up in everyday conversation. It means “to cry out” in a loud voice, and is akin to the more modern word “yelp.” Walt Whitman used the word in his poem Song of Myself:
“I too am not a bit tamed—I too am untranslatable;
I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.” (Verse 52)
Sometimes we all need to act a little untamed so that our true selves can burst forth with a mighty “yawp!” When we break through creativity happens.
This “crying out” is illustrated in my favorite scene in one of my favorite movies
I admit I was harsh last week — and most of the previous weeks — in my check-in(s). This week, though, I must congratulate the author for providing some material that has given me a useful insight. In fact, I have to admit that she may have changed the course of my creative endeavors.
The theme of chapter 7 is “recovering a sense of connection,” with the goal of “excavating areas of genuine creative interest as you connect with your personal dreams.” The way one connects with the inner creative self is doing the morning pages and going on artist’s dates. This gets one past the obstacles that so treacherously cause one to trip.
I do find that writing the morning pages the first thing after waking helps me to tap into some sources of unconscious inspiration. One of the tasks in this chapter was to create an “autobiographical collage”. I did a collage of found images early in the week shortly after reading the chapter. It depicts a hand rising from a cave reaching towards the sky. This illustrates my unconscious material coming to light.
The author also discusses two obstacles in connecting to inspiration and making subsequent creative output: perfectionism and jealousy. Although I feel compelled to apply my best efforts to any undertaking, there is a freedom in knowing I can never be perfect. There is no perfect writing or art piece I can create so I might as well just relax and enjoy the process. Similarly, trying to outshine another creative is a manifestation of jealousy. I may strive to create in a particular genre or medium I don’t really enjoy or excel because I want to be like some other writer or artist.
So what is the useful insight for me? I don’t really enjoy the novel writing process; I’m just jealous of the celebrity, great or small, that being a novelist may garner for fifteen minutes. I would much rather continue doing what I’ve always done: blogging, writing poems, essays and the occasional short story, and maybe arting about things that interest me. Coming into this awareness, I am released from the tyranny of perfecting a genre I don’t enjoy. But who knows? Maybe that release will end up allowing me to create something truly spectacular.
In other words, I am learning to enjoy the ride towards an unknown destination.
A potter may imagine the soft lines and symmetry of a vase, yet if she cannot control the clay on the wheel there will be nothing but a gray mass of sludge. If a writer imagines his story in the deep recesses of his mind, yet does not know grammar and vocabulary, if he cannot master the weaving of words into a coherent and dramatic structure, then there is no novel.
People have told me that I have a nice voice, yet I am untrained and no matter how much I enjoy belting out a song, I know I will never, ever be able stand up before an audience and perform without making a fool of myself. I have not mastered the craft of song.
Similarly, I have been exploring music through drumming, but I am a novice who can’t even read music. Yet, I move forward through study and practice so that I may, hopefully, someday master my craft and be able to artfully conjure the emotion that drumming can evoke.
Whatever your medium or genre, practice your craft until it becomes art.
I have reached the point in reading the book where, in my past attempts at it, I was tempted to slam shut the cover or pitch it across the room. It is not because of what the author writes, it is how she writes. Chapter 2 is titled “Recovering a Sense of Identity,” and opens with this: “This week addresses self-definition as a major component of creative recovery. You may find yourself drawing new boundaries and staking out new territories as your personal needs, desires, and interests announce themselves. The essays and tools are aimed at moving you into your personal identity, a self-defined you.” (Cameron, 41)
The problem is that it doesn’t– or at least I’m not seeing this in the text. Oh, there is useful, insightful material on writers’ block, “poison playmates, ” “crazymakers,” and other hindrances to the creative process, but if these issues serve to help us self-identify as creatives, then the author did not do a good job in bringing her arguments back to support her thesis. If I were my high school English teacher, this chapter would have gone back to the author with red comments and a request to rewrite it.
But this post is not a book review. It is a review of my progress in developing a healthy identity as a creative person. So to that end, this past week I created my own task list. This week I simply did what writers do. I engaged in activities that made me write, prepare to write or edit what I did write.
I dug back into my files and pulled out storylines and character profiles I had started and then abandoned. I set up both computer and physical project notebooks for my research and development. I also wrote several short blog posts this week.
Yes, I did stick to the program inasmuch as I did my morning pages every day, went on an artist date (see the post on setting up my creative corner) and by reviewing and writing out creative affirmations.
I can give the author some credit: since I started the program a couple of weeks ago I have seen some movement and breakup of creative blockages,. However, I wonder if this has as much to do with my own work and commitment to my creative recovery. We’ll see. In the meantime, I’m just going to do it!