Friday, May 23, 2008

My Creative Autobiography

What is the first creative moment you remember?
I was at primary school and was required to draw a picture of a food I liked. I decided to draw a plate of polenta which, really, did not look like polenta at all.

Was there anyone there to witness or appreciate it?
My teacher and she did not appreciate it. She shouted that I should have coloured it in. When I told her what it was, she said she couldn’t even tell, so she wiped my plate of polenta off the page and drew her own. It looked very beautiful to me, but as I was enveloped in her powdery scent as she leaned over from behind my chair and drew, I felt offended that she felt the need to wipe my drawing out and replace it with her own. It was my notebook after all and even though she smelt nice, I thought she was awful. I cried at home.

What is the best idea you’ve ever had?
To become critically self-sufficient in my creative pursuits.

What made it great in your mind?
I felt liberated from that depending feeling of self-validation through other people’s views and opinions.

What is the dumbest idea?
To apply for a corporate job in order to finance my PhD.

What made it stupid?
Dedicating all my time towards a pursuit that impairs my creativity and imagination. In fact, it drains it.

Can you connect the dots that led you to this idea?
To the best idea I’ve ever had? No, I can’t. But I can connect the dots that led me to the worst one.

What is your creative ambition?
To write for a living.

What are the obstacles to your ambition?
Everything is an obstacle, but I can only see them when I take my eyes off my target.

What are the vital steps to achieving this ambition?
Practice, competence and mental stamina. I am my own fiercest critic and greatest fan.

How do you being your day?
Woken up by dogs.

What are your habits? What patterns do you repeat?
I spend one hour every morning getting ready to face the world. This involves making up and washing and styling my hair every single day. It doesn’t matter that I may not be going out that day. I used to do this even when I was off work on sick leave and nobody outside of my four walls would come into contact with me. I take the day off with the make-up remover and by brushing my teeth. I never go to sleep without having done these two things. Never, ever.

Describe your first successful creative act.
Drawing horses with long necks. In my early years I used to draw them with little heads attached to their thick, oval bodies. But one day I figured out that they didn't really look like that, so I freed my trembling hand, elongated the neck and, finally, I had a proper horse. I used to call them all Pegasus. This seems very unimaginative to me now but considering that I was a very small child of 3 or 4 years of age, I have to wonder how I knew that Pegasus was a horse in the first place.

Describe your second successful creative act.
I completed a short novel for teenagers. I wrote it the space of a few weeks during one very hot summer. This happened much later than my first creative act, but it felt like a seminal moment to me.

Compare them.
I used to sketch all of my gameplay. I wouldn’t pick up Barbies and play with them, I would storyboard it all in my notebooks and then get the Barbies out and act it out. So it was normal for me to sketch all the time. I used to sketch for friends as well, but hated colouring in. All my sketches were done in pen, mostly black or blue. It later seemed like I could expand on the sketches with words. I loved to write out what I had sketched. The activities seem therefore connected to me, but I didn’t think so at the time. It was either sketching or writing.

What are your attitudes toward: money, power, praise, rivals, work, play?
Money: a necessary evil.
Power: something I shy away from.
Praise: it flatters me.
Rivals: farewell, may God be with you. They leave me unfazed. Or they would leave me unfazed if I had any.
Work: it doesn’t exist so long as I write.
Play: it’s my whole life.

Which artists do you admire the most?
Michelangelo, Leonardo, Foucault, Keats, Shelley, Wilde.

Why are they your role models?
Because they gave me something that endures and interests me and moves me and spurs me to explore my own creativity every time I think of them. Just their names make me smile.

What do you and your role models have in common?
Michelangelo: we both force ourselves to work through something we dislike because we have to.
Leonardo: we both shoot off in multiple directions, fired up by improbable ideas, enthusiastic about everything.
Foucault: we both write about difficult topics in a non-patronising, accessible manner.
Keats: we both love and pursue beauty.
Shelley: we are both unafraid of passion.
Wilde: we are both effervescent and equipped with poisonous nibs.

Does anyone in your life regularly inspire you?
Myself. To stay focused and to do better. I can always do better.

What is your muse?
Michelangelo’s Moses. He is god-like, strong and awesome. When I think of inspiration, especially when I lack it, I think of this man. In my mind, he often breaks through the marble, walks up to me and talks, but what he says, of course, is private.

Define muse.
He who inspires me, shelters me and spurs me on.

When confronted with superior intelligence or talent, how do you respond?
I learn.

When faced with stupidity, hostility, intransigence, laziness, or indifference, how do you respond?
Stupidity: I get angry.
Hostility: I walk away.
Intransigence: I stick to my own guns.
Laziness: I get up and do something myself.
Indifference: I turn the page.

When faced with impending success or the threat of failure, how do you respond?
I get fired up.

When you work, do you love the process or the result?
The result only slightly more than the process, but only just. That’s because I really, really, really, really like to re-read my work. I edit it all the time. It never ends. It’s never finished.

At what moment do you feel your reach exceeds your grasp?
All the time.

What is your ideal creative activity?

What is your greatest fear?
To lose the ability to crystallise ideas into coherent sentences.

What is the likelihood of either of the answers to the previous two questions happening?
Well... writing already happens. It happens all the time, just not for a living at the moment. But I am certain that it ain’t far off. As for losing the ability to write... I suppose the likelihood of it happening is minute.

Which of your answers would you most like to change?
The answer to the first question. I wish I had no memory of having been put down (and almost out) because I did not colour in a stupid drawing.

What is your idea of mastery?
To dispense with a proof-reader and an editor. I work at it all the time. I want to be self-sufficient.

What is your greatest dream?
To live well and inspire young people to turn inspiration into reality.
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