Author’s Note: This was a discussion post written for my Development of Creative Thinking graduate class in response to reading several chapters’ worth of theories on creativity.
I have a sandbox. This is my sandbox. I like my sandbox because I can do anything I like in my sandbox. I don’t really know why I do the things I do, play the games I play, or pretend the things that I pretend in my sandbox. They just seem like really good ideas and I do them; they often end up turning out to be really great. I love my sandbox. This was the thought that came to me tonight as I spoke to my husband and we worked through how to voice our creative processes.
Freud noted his theory that creativity is the extension of childhood free play and that creative writing, for example, resulted from the writer indulging in the “playing pretend” of his or her childhood in order to create these fantastic worlds within their fiction. With my larping, I have had people say to me, “You and Ben [my husband] didn’t get enough pretend time as children, did you?” And my response has always been: “Oh, on the contrary, I got a lot of pretend time. I just don’t want it to stop with childhood.” My very first larping game, I fell into so deeply the action of playing my character and interacting with the characters that others played, that the six hours of game flew by for me and I found myself very disappointed that it was over, as I still do at the end of a game.
It was quite a similar feeling to when I saw “Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring” for the first time. I fell head- and heartlong into that film, into its story, so much so that when a friend leaned over to me and asked, “Did you like it?” as Frodo and Sam crested the hill from which they could see Mordor, I felt my heart sink and I kind of squeaked, “It’s over?!” But I knew I was hooked. I read all three novels in a few weeks’ time, treated my friends to midnight showings of the next two movies over the next two years, wrote nine stories to fill in the gaps where there were things that I wanted to know, and wrote my undergraduate thesis on Tolkien’s language and use of Norse myth, saga, and tradition in the Rohirrim, and my Research Studies paper in graduate school on the Tolkien Hero. I published my papers in Parma Nole, the Journal of the Northeastern Tolkien Society while in graduate school and one of them will be republished in a book by those editors this fall. I worked until I finally exhausted my steam, my flow. I still love Tolkien and his world deeply, though my love doesn’t burn as hotly now as it did then. I still cannot explain what inspired me and drew me into Middle Earth so deeply, but I can tell you that I enjoyed every minute of it.
That’s kind of what my creative process is like. I cannot explain it. I cannot assign it stages of work or lay it out on a linear scale. My mind most definitely has“mysterious happenings”. In grad school, I woke up from a dream one night and had enjoyed it so much that I grabbed my notebook and ran into the bathroom so I wouldn’t disturb my roommate. In there, I sat on the edge of the tub for an hour and scribbled in my notebook until I had the dream down just as I remembered it, what I could remember. Dreams fade quickly for me and, often, I can only hang onto feelings, emotions, or sensations. This one, I remembered plot, causes, and people. It was rare, a white elephant amongst dreams for me. So I hurried to write it down while the “flow” was upon me. I cannot explain to you where the stories come from, where the characters come from, the costuming ideas, or the desire to write letters. “It just came to me” is my staple answer. I had an idea from…somewhere…and I ran with it. I love the process!
I love the writing. I love watching characters and their lives form beneath my pen or by the strokes of my keyboard. I love planning the pieces of a costume, parts from hither, thither, and yon that come together to make up a gorgeous whole with nary a stitch. I am in love with the Process! That doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy the Product; I do. And then I want a new idea, a new something to work on. Sometimes I get it, sometimes I don’t. But, from whence it comes, I could never tell you.