Monday, February 14, 2011

Consume vs. Create

This post comes to us from Ariel Allison - the wordsmith behind our sister blog, "She Reads." The message in red at the end comes from us.

On Friday Katy Popa wrote a genius post for She Reads that at first had me choking on my coffee and then left me paranoid that she’d hi-jacked my webcam and had a ring-side seat to my creative process - sans the cat, she lives outside. If you’ve not read it yet, do so immediately. I’ll wait.

Ah, welcome back.

Told you it was good. South American catnip. El Capitan. I’m still chuckling.

Here’s the thing about Katy’s post that resonated with me, and what I’d like to pull from today: creating anything, be it a novel or crème brulee or a song, is hard work.

And I suspect it’s the reason why so many of us spend the majority of our time
talking about writing instead of tapping out prose during the embryonic moments of our day. So in an effort at full disclosure, I have a "really ugly truth" of my own to share:

That's me writing at 5:00 a.m. It ain't pretty, folks.

The cover charge for my participation in this mystery called Art is paid in the commodity of sleep. It costs me every day. It's hard to get up, as my husband says, at the "butt-crack of dawn." But the alternative is no easier. Not for me during this season of life:

["The Many Faces of Distraction"][/caption]
A friend recently wrote that “it is easier to consume than create.” And he's right. It's easier to soak in a well-crafted story than persist through a first, second, or twenty-third draft in effort to spin that perfect yarn. It's easier to lick crème brulee from a spoon than to stand over the ramekin with a pastry torch, browning the sugar just so. Far easier to hear a song than spend hours in the studio recording, mixing, and mastering a single. This is true of any art form. Drinking in is easier than pouring out. (I would add that it’s also far easier to critique than create, but that's another post.) It is easier to sleep in.

For Katy it meant a night of lost sleep in order to fulfill her blogging commitment. For me it means getting up far earlier than I consider healthy or decent. It means peeling myself from between the sheets when my alarm blasts out its shrill reminder:
create, create, create.

It is so much harder to create than to merely consume. But the rewards. Oh those rewards, like cracking that thin layer of caramelized sugar, they are sweet.

Tell me friends - so I know I'm not alone - how you pick up the tab for the grueling honor of creating?

Since this is February, we authors at Novel Matters must jump in here for a teensy Valentines message for you, dear reader:


And because we are so glad you've all stopped by, we want to send one of you a bar of Green & Black's fair trade Chocolate. (Of course it's fair trade. We love you too much to support injustice in your name.)

Here's what you must do to win: In the comments, when you answer the question Ariel asked at the end of her post, if you phrase your answer in the form of a haiku, we will enter your name in the hat.

You know what a haiku is, right?
Three short rhymeless lines
The writer mustn't stress out
This game should be fun

And once again,



Sandra Stiles said...

Butt in chair til done
Then sleep in very short bursts
Then I go to school.

You aren't alone. I squeeze it in between family, grading paper, and teaching. I actually started a creative writing club at school so I could get some of my writing done.

Anonymous said...

Laundry wrinkles in baskets
Funky smells wafte from kitchen sink
The Farmer groans for dinner :)

These are how my some-things beautiful come to life! Wouldn't it be splendid to be like our Creator and still feed the birds and take care of the aching soul while creating a splendid Sunflower? Ahhh...the Master's hand!

Patti Hill said...

Well done, Sandra and Ashten. Here's mine:
Between this and that
Schedule cracks biting whip
Words swell to story

Marian said...

Create, create, create
I must create
Anything for chocolate

Bonnie Grove said...

I'm loving these!! Great work, everyone!
Marian: you made me laugh. I like the way you think!

Just for fun (I can't win the chocolate - rats!) Here is mine:
Computer darkened
My empty thoughts to arrange
Idea- fingers tap.

I like what Ariel said about consume vs. create. It's a different mindset entirely. And too often, as a consumer, I've been too quick to dismiss something as "not my thing" - without taking a moment or two to appreciate the artistry that went into creating the work. I'm aiming to do better.

Susie Finkbeiner said...

Laundry piled high,
Dishes rotting in sink,
I sit and write.

(seriously, this is so my life!!!)

Susie Finkbeiner said...

Ooo...I just realized mine was too much like Ashten's. Sorry. I'll rewrite.

Sesame Street on the tube,
TV table in the kitchen,
I sit and write.

Latayne C Scott said...

Okay, this is an oldie, but I wrote it on my anniversary -- maybe 30 years ago. But it's valentiney, too--

Rousing from sleep, I
Wonder: Is this the face that
Launched my only ship?

Latayne C Scott said...

Oh, and PS-- Ariel, that was a great post. I'll try to create more today.

Susie Finkbeiner said...

Latanye, I often look in the mirror and think "how did that handsome man in there just say that I was beautiful. Is he going blind?". How my husband sees through the thick glasses, hoodie sweatshirts and leftover baby weight I don't know. But I'm glad he does!

Anonymous said...

hahaha...Marian's is my fave...a true woman for sure :D! And Susie, no problem wutsoev! just resonates that there is nothing new under the sun...kinda comforting, huh?
I think I need to note that though I love to write for fun...most of my creating is of the crafty sort...crocheting, sewing, knitting, gardening, maybe I shouldn't qualify for chocolate.
I just find you all so inspiring...writers truly are some of the most creative creatures on the face of the planet.
And yes, though it is easier to consume than create...I find the creative process so much more fulfilling. I'd rather sing a song than listen to one. I'd rather draw a picture than walk through an art museum. I'd rather lay out a garden plan than walk through one. Maybe I'm weird. Not that I don't enjoy consuming...or any of those things listed above...but really, my spirit thrives on the creative process...thus my poor farmer's irritation at my random projects filling corners in many rooms of our house. And being inspired by creative bloggers like yourselves...that just keeps me salivating for more!

Susie Finkbeiner said...

Ashten! Seriously, if you write you are a writer! Regardless of why! And if you're crafty...then I am in awe! You absolutely should be in the running for the chocolate!

And, Green & Blacks is amazing chocolate! Thanks, Novel Matters Ladies for going for the Fair Trade!

Latayne C Scott said...

Oh, man. I'd like to be noble like Susie. But my haiku was written when I looked over at my husband. It's a takeoff on the quote from Marlowe in Dr. Faustus:

Was this the face that launch'd a thousand ships
And burnt the topless towers of Ilium?

You see, the person who launched the ships was not the one with the face. . .

Oh, nevermind.

Susie Finkbeiner said...

Well...thanks for calling me noble. I think that's a first.

Precentor said...

Good post!

A blank screen
The cold typing board
A leather whip nearby

I'm afraid I'm really absent minded with some of the health issues I'm having. I'm not entirely sure I'll remember to check back to this post to see the winners. :( Any chance I could get an email if I won?


If not, don't worry about it, and good luck to the rest!

Steve G said...

There seems to be a lot of whips in the households - should I raise an eyebrow?

Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap
Yaw.. yaw.. yaw.. yaw.. yaw.. yaw.. yawn
Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap

Ariel Allison Lawhon said...

Penny for your thoughts
Says Katy this Valentines
Then asks for her change

Sorry to subject you to that, friends. I haven't written Haiku since puberty. Mrs. Wilson's Creative Writing class, early 1990's. There is a reason she never never steered me toward a career in poetry.

Word Verification: shnedly. Medley said during a sneeze.

Kathleen Popa said...

Now you see why we made this a drawing instead of a competition? Such great responses, and so many!

And Ariel, I made the prize a chocolate bar and not a penny because I can't count. :0)

Megan Sayer said...

Latayne I have said this before, you are a true wordsmith. Yes, even if the idea was borrowed - yours is still better.

Do you sell it on t-shirts?

Ellen Staley said...

I feel so guilty. Just ate TWO
dark chocolate almond bars. Chocolate is my motivator!

Truancy of thought
Facebooked waste
Time creativity redeems.

Afraid my undone chores were already mentioned so that's my other common problem. Trolling online.
But my reward each week is a book for consuming on the weekend.

Anonymous said...

Troubles turn out for the best
For they force me to read,
To learn from God's text.

When I feel troubled and overwhelmed with a need to find a "re-focus" it is comforting to find refreshment and clarity in God's Word. Kathy

Henrietta Frankensee said...

First, I would like to say that, in direct response to the prayers of you at Novel Matters I have been able to crack a nutty problem with my WIP and WRITE! I actually wrote something this weekend and the plot is flowing once more. Thank you, thank you. I have felt so marvelously supported here.
I cannot eat chocolate but if I win I shall surely pass it on to a deserving fellow writer.
The light is red,
(scratch, scribble, scrawl,)
Drat, it's green again.


Penelope, don't hit your brother
Randolf, give that to your sister
Oh,oops. hello my little Suzie.


Car heat turned to max
Swathed crossing guard waves
Hot love scene takes shape

Lori Benton said...

What would I do for
This candy bar? Write Haiku?
That's going too far!

Latayne C Scott said...

Haiku t-shirts.... hmmmm----
How would I price them? Of course!
Five seventy-five.


MandyB said...

Midnight hour's silence
Broken by tapping keys
My muse is speaking

The Veelas said...

All the stolen Time
Bits from babies and The Spouse
Time used to be mine