Last night we saw the TCNJ Musical Theatre production of the pop opera Bare. I didn’t know anything about this show (other than the fact that the patron saint of this blog was Stage Manager for this production, and it had consumed her waking life for the past month or so), but it was a pretty ambitious production. Set in a Catholic boarding school it covers a lot of ground: coming out issues, love, secrets, crisis of faith, teen sex, death. Props to the young cast and crew who did a superlative job. This is truly a labor of love for these students, and they deserve a Thanksgiving break to eat like fools and sleep like infants when they head home this week.
So this morning I was ruminating on this show and began to imagine how people feel when a creative project is completed. I include all of humanity in the creative process here: everybody has creative juice in them, and it is called sweat. I count cooks, writers, actors, musicians, designers, mechanics, teachers, scrapbookers, laundry platform builders, basically everybody who creates something that didn’t exist before their effort. I have a particular fondness for the inventor of the nifty cardboard funnel that I used today to fill my brown leaf collection bags. So simple and elegant… like an origami crane with a really lonnnnnng neck.
The spark of creativity is the easiest part. That “stroke of genius” gives you the initial rocket burst of energy, but it is a real slog to bring the impulse to fruition. Take my NaNoWriMo progress….. please! The goal is 50K words by 11/30 and I’m hovering at 10K about now. If I’m honest with myself it is clear that without Divine intervention (or solitary confinement) I won’t hit the 50K goal post, but I don’t feel disheartened. Each time I plant my butt at the keyboard I find that I still have some creative juice and I can write more, imagine more, and retain some optimism that (I hope) will take me through the dry patches. To paraphrase an old adage, “The harder I work, the more creative I get.”
Sure you feel good and proud about your work when it’s done, but how often do you take a moment to fully relish all the sweat, set-backs and occasional good luck that occurred in the process? This goes for books, meals, students who can now grasp a complex concept, stage productions, and other priceless works of art. Don’t sweat the small stuff, but don’t be afraid to sweat for your art — whatever your medium.