Originally posted on my website, 15 April 2022
Do you remember, back in the day, how crisp and solid bluetack used to be? Is it just me, or has bluetack significantly degraded in quality? The bluetack I use now is soft and strange. It trails off in funny ways, dripping into a sticky mess.
They don’t make bluetack the way they used to make bluetack.
This week, making a mess with my bluetack, two things occurred to me. The first is: I am getting old. I am that person who starts sentences with “back in my day…” The second thing I realised is how much these sticky, drippy trails of tacky mess remind me of sharp, brilliant writing projects I start… only to stall mid-way. To find the project turning into a sticky mess, with bits trailing off in strange directions, no longer crisp and functional.
What do we do when our prized creative project starts to sag?
Do we poke at it frantically? Do we try and roll and grind it into shape? Do we leave it alone? Do we wait patiently until the muse slams back into our fingers and/or creative muscles, whirling us into a new dance?
Beginnings are easy. They come with no strings, no gravity, no weight of expectation. They don’t need to be anything. They simply be. It is easy to dance with a beginning. There’s no weight behind it, no rules. We dance in a whirl of whimsy and day-dream. We set our feet on whatever path lands beneath us as we jump and spin.
At some point, though, we are no longer flirting with an idea. We are no longer dreaming and spinning. We have a thing in our hands that has formed a shape. It has weight behind it, the drag of what has happened, the pull of what we have set up that needs to be resolved. There are strings to tangle and strangle. There are folds of material here, and rules. The gravity of that starts to skew and pull off centre.
It’s very easy, at this point, to let it go. To feel too unprepared and unskilled to dance it to a conclusion. Other things begin to twinkle and sparkle. Fresh new ideas that don’t have any expectations or rules. Easier dances with no weight, no gravity.
Perhaps this is the difference between someone who is creative, and someone who creates? The willingness to stay in the dance when things feel heavy, when they swell with extra weight and awkward angles of what was, what needs to be?
Anyone can be creative, spurting ideas out every which way, but are we willing to invest the time, the sweat, the tears into actually creating? To hold the space when a project pulls, or drags, or chafes, or burns. When we feel things wobbling off track, when it starts to slip away… do we hold tight, hold that space and endure or let go?
Are we creative, or are we creating?