On Art (not ART) and creativity

(Because I have plenty of experience with ART .)

There’s been some recent twitter kerfuffles about quitting one’s day job to pursue one’s CREATIVITY.  Scalzi talks about his take on the movement in this post.

… I suspect I am not “a creative”*

I would far far rather read novels than write them. Writing a novel sounds like work.  Writing any kind of *book* sounds like a lot of work.

Also: I have no artistic talent.

So… I’m pretty happy not having some kind of creative passion that I’m supposed to be fitting into my copious free time or quitting my job to do.

Yay me?

Are you a creative?  Do you find the time to create?

*no, I don’t think this blog counts as a creative passion… I’m not sure what we could call it, but… we’re not quitting our jobs to monetize it.

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24 Responses to “On Art (not ART) and creativity”

  1. C Says:

    Oh man, I think about quitting my job to do art at least once a week. For me it would be actual art (printmaking) and writing mystery novels. I have started writing a mystery novel and it doesn’t in any way feel like work. But I don’t know if it’s actually any good. My plan is to finish it during sabbatical and if I can get it published I’ll quit my job. And if it stinks I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing. And in that case I have big plans for retirement!

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Every time I’ve had to do a creative writing assignment for school it has felt like work. My creative writing from back then is surprisingly good IMHO, but I didn’t really have fun with it. Whenever I get really bored I start writing fiction, but it never goes anywhere because summer ends and it’s been over a decade since I’ve had a chance to be bored. (I’m terrible at plotting, but extremely good at dialogue.)

  2. Miser Mom Says:

    Ugh, creativity. There’s a creativity initiative on our campus that looks to me like a buzz-word excuse to buy a bunch of 3-d printers. I’m a bit of a curmudgeon about this because I have a hard time wrapping my head around what everyone else means when they say “creative”: it’s like they’re using English words but speaking another language. I think my math papers are a creative endeavor, so why is this “initiative” anything new, and why does it have to be about an expensive way of building plastic kitsch?

    I once read an article that described people learning to associate two seemingly unrelated objects (like cuckoo clocks and airplanes) and using those to write advertisements. The people who did that made advertisements that a panel judged as more “creative” than other ads by who were given no guidance but just came up with ads. I actually do like this approach: a set of constraints seems more efficient and inspiring than doing whatever-the-heck we want. If that’s creativity, then I’m all for it.

  3. ellie Says:

    I suppose it would be accurate to say that I used to be creative. I wrote a novel some years back and started on a trilogy, but let it falter. I never tried to publish. I enjoyed writing poetry. And I was good enough at art that a fairly casual acquaintance saw something I was working on and got mad at me for not pursuing a career with it. I also have years upon years of journals.

    …and the only writing I do now is for work, and I haven’t started an art project in at least 10 years. I don’t think I’ve even put a word in a journal in the last 4-5 years. I don’t have the hours in the day to put into creativity, and I don’t even feel like I have anything I want to express if I did have the hours. I don’t quite know how to feel about it, to be honest. I feel like I used to have a voice that got hemmed in and hemmed in until it was gone. And that bothers me as a fact… but not strongly, probably because my life is so full right now. I have a job I enjoy, a family I love, and there are so many balls to keep rolling on a daily basis.

    Who knows, maybe there will come a time when that voice will come back and I’ll have space for creative activities again.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      A big part of my training focused on revealed preference– we are doing what is optimal for us because we have revealed it. This is where our utility curves hit our budget constraints, or we’d be doing something different. But sometimes one has to think about one’s utility curves and budget constraints to make sure that they’re actually hitting.

  4. rose Says:

    Creative. First reaction: I am not. SECOND: creative endeavors in my life ~ parenting and grandparenting, cooking for over 60 yrs, creating a home out of housing repeatedly, made quilts, knitted, did cross stitch, and needlepoint (but generally not freeform, used patterns), sewing for self and children, photography, writing professional papers, made up stories for small children (not a highly critical audience I grant you), playdo sculptures, found solutions to problems in accounting and HR at work, made magic potions in back yards and fairy houses, created tent cities from sheets & blankets, problem-solved for people professionally., created marble runs and block cities, taught children cooking, sewing, homework……. SO really the question should be what are ‘creative arts’ and how have you applied them in your life. We are all more than we give ourselves credit for being. It doesn’t need to be money-tizable to be creative art. It is on the spot improvisation too ~ like getting a toddler to eat dinner……………

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      That’s true, cooking is creative… though I haven’t really had time or inclination to indulge in that either. Seems like most of the “creative” jobs are also jobs where the majority of people have crappy work environments (low pay, long work hours, unpredictable employment etc.) I don’t have a celebrity chef in my trying to get out.

      Crafts were something I did when I was really bored growing up with parents who wouldn’t let me watch tv or own a video game player. I am not terribly good at them.

  5. gasstationwithoutpumps Says:

    Teaching and doing research are intensely creative activities. Faculty often have little time for *other* creative outlets.

    Most of my creative output for the past several years has been in writing a textbook: https://leanpub.com/applied_analog_electronics

    I have done a little playing with other creative activities (my blog, a 3D printer, some electronics not related to my course, …), but that has all been play, not serious creative work. Creative work takes a lot of time, effort, and attention—too many of the “creativity initiatives” are just about play.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Even with teaching, I feel like I’m sticking with things that work rather than coming up with new things (because if it ain’t broke…) I’ve kind of resented things that have had to be changed (because we learn new knowledge, or, for my electives, what’s in the news is different etc.) rather than seeing them as opportunities.

      I think the best creativity is play. :)

  6. chacha1 Says:

    Writing isn’t work for me. I’m trying to treat “being an author” as a second job, at this point – I’m putting at least 20 hours a week into creating new fiction, editing/revising, doing all the publishing administrivia, and associated things like the series blog, the FB page, etc etc. All that stuff is work. The writing itself isn’t work.

    I have never not been creative. My parents hooked me and my sister up with whatever crafty/creative stuff we asked for that they could afford. We learned to play piano, we learned to sing, we learned to appreciate all kinds of music. I learned to dance. We both learned a little about gardening. We both know how to cook. We both learned to draw. My sister actually got a BA in art and then a teaching credential so she could eat. She is a good photographer and graphic artist, I’m a good writer. I also paint a little, I’ve done needle crafts, I’ve made jewelry for years, I’ve written music/songs, and I do choreography.

    Creativity and “making a living at something creative” are NOT EVEN CLOSE to the same thing, but in our culture, if something doesn’t make money we are taught that it’s worthless. And especially if it is a historically domestic art (e.g. quilting, designing/constructing clothing, cooking, gardening, all the things women have historically done, because hello there was no-one else to do those things, because the men were literally out cutting down trees and breaking up the earth with plows). F**k that.

    Creativity is also very present in nearly all academic disciplines, but because of the cultural bias against ‘creativity’ (lack of support for NEA, PBS, etc) and the way these disciplines are presented, academics are – IMO – actively discouraged from viewing their own work as creative. You can’t tell me Albert Einstein wasn’t creative. The leaps of imagination required to formulate a new theory – or to solve an old problem – are nothing BUT creative.

    I have made less money in 6 years from my writing than I make in a day at this stupid job. The money is not at all the point, though it would be awfully nice if the writing did, at some point, make money.

    • gasstationwithoutpumps Says:

      It would be nice for me to make money from my textbook too. Right now I figure I’ve earned about 50¢ an hour for the work I put in on the book (not counting the amount I spent on equipment to learn the material and prepare the examples—I’m still negative if you count that). Luckily, I was on sabbatical for much of the time I was writing, so the university was supporting my attempt to create the book.

      I’ve found it valuable to sabbatical for Fall quarter, then teach for Winter and Spring—I get a big chunk of time (summer and fall) to work on scholarly activities, but not so long that I procrastinate through half of it. Because I’m working on a textbook, it helps to teach out of the latest draft each year. That gives me a deadline for releases of new versions, and gives me feedback from the true audience, which is invaluable for improvement.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      That’s an interesting thought– why don’t we call things that make money for the bulk of people who pursue them (not just the superstars) creative? I didn’t think there was a cultural bias against creativity, but maybe there is. We definitely do seem to respect people who can “create”. Could it instead be that jobs that are fun for a lot of people instead of a way to pay the bills are considered creative? The willingness to do it for low pay or for free gives it the creative label as a compensating differential?

      • chacha1 Says:

        I’d say that we *celebrate* people who create, but it’s a subset of those people. The big stars, basically, or else the people who are perceived as so disadvantaged that their ability to create anything gets recognition. I don’t know that we (the culture as a whole) actually respect those people. The culture of celebrity (aka gossip economy) is built around obsessive interest in creatives and is equal parts “oooh how awesome to have that life” and “oooh can’t wait to see him/her fail, that marriage will never last, s/he’s probably a drug addict” etc.

        I guess I could expand the original point and say there is a cultural bias against the pursuit of creativity for its own sake. “If you’re not making money at it, you must not be any good.” There is also a strong cultural bias against paying creatives IRL. I can’t count the number of times artist/dancer/writer friends have been asked to do something for free “for the exposure.” And basically the only full-time jobs for creatives are in teaching. We all know exactly how respected the teaching profession is in the US, if by respected you mean “decently compensated.”

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        I dunno though, I feel a little bit jealous (in a good it’s so cool they can do that way, but like, not enough for me to actually try to do it) of people who have artistic talent even if they just do it as a hobby.

  7. Jenny F. Scientist Says:

    I love to see and build things, which I consider creative, and I’ve stated designing gardens for other people, which is maybe cratoice? I don’t think of *my* cooking as creative, possibly because it’s a necessity and a chore rather than something where I feel inspired. Maybe sometimes creativity lives in one’s luxury time rather than necessity time, especially if one’s day job is not artistic?

  8. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life Says:

    I don’t define myself as a creative at ALL but there’s a part of me (envious little sibling here) that wishes I had SOMETHING creative / artsy that I was good at and enjoyed. I don’t consider my writing creative though it is a thing I create and maybe that’s a flaw in the way I define creativity for myself.

    I try to find a way to make things with my hands every so often, and right now it’s learning how to hem a proper seam. It feels like it would be a thing that would add some joy to our lives, but I don’t want it to become a pressure thing… though it does a bit internally.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I have a hem I need to do… maybe this weekend. I only know how to do it by hand and I can’t shorten hems, but I can repair them when they’re torn out. Stupid ann taylor pants (great pants, but the hem shouldn’t have fallen out so soon!) I have so few work pants and even fewer that aren’t becoming ratty, that I really need to get this done.

      Sorry for the not-at-all creative comment on chores(!) Hems are not my favorite kind of mending.

  9. First Gen American Says:

    I work with product designers for a living. I think my job requires a lot of creativity to do innovation and problem solving. One of my pet peeves is people try to separate art from science as polar opposite things. Left brain right brain. It’s not. I feel the fundamentals of problem solving are so similar to the arts where you look at something in a new or unique way to create something new. I could go on and on about this but will end there.

  10. Linda Says:

    My creative outlet is knitting, and I make time to do some knitting every week. I’m not an incredibly fast knitter, and in the past year I’ve had nerve issues in my neck that sometimes cause my hands and arms to go numb, too. I’m not getting a lot of projects done, but I really love to knit and make things for people so I won’t give it up.


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