Sunday, October 11, 2015

Johnny One-Note

By Leigh Stevenson

We often think of artists, whether painters, actors, writers, musicians, dancers, et al. as endlessly creative. However, I submit that in spite of being engaged in singular creative endeavors, artists can be as dry as numbers on a page or prairie grass in a dust storm.

Regardless of having a reputation for being mostly right-brained, artists may have creative tunnel-vision. In order to balance and feed art its important to draw from other sources. Indeed, the right brain and left brain are housed together and operate in concert with one another. Its a joke among actors that dancers and singers make terrible actors and vice-versa. It could be argued they have poured too much into one skill set. Well, we cant all be Ben Vareen or Michaelangelo.

Contemporary novelist Elizabeth Gilbert took a break from writing and developed a love for gardening. She credits that pursuit with inspiring her novel, The Signature of All Things. Amantine-Lucile-Aurore Dupin, a.k.a. George Sand, the nineteenth century French novelist, loved nature and in particular, bird-watching. When she felt depleted she left the bustle of Paris and retired to the country for periods of time to nurture herself.  Painting was one of the creative outlets Dante Gabriel Rossetti, the nineteenth century English writer, explored.

Members of our Columbia II Writers Workshop practice law, act in plays, consult and teach among other things while also producing memorable writing.

In her recent Columbia II blog, Kasie Whitener spoke of finding inspiration while traveling, specifically in airports. Some of what I consider my best work came while in a hospital waiting room. Sometimes by stepping away, stepping out your writing-comfort zone will yield surprising results. Step away from your computer or notebook. Please step away from your hand-held device. Be present. Use all of the tools that make you a writer.

It could be as simple as hiking, applying paint on canvas or as challenging as learning a new language. Did I forget to say you dont actually have to excel at any of these things? Its simply exercising unused muscles to make all the other muscles work more efficiently.

They say that you become old by not trying new things. Its also true that your art can become old and stale. Your art is all of who you are, what you see and experience. Its not just the talent for stringing together lovely sentences or carving an exquisite bowl or photographing the perfect sunset. Its all of who you are and what you do. Enrich yourself. No Johnny-One-Notes.


Laura Puccia Valtorta said...

I love this, Leigh! I totally agree.

The editors should have caught -- Georges Sand.

Laura Puccia Valtorta said...

Now I see it is "George."