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SA Partridge

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Finding Creativity

I’ve been on the hunt for some creativity and I’ve looked everywhere for it.

I tried to find it in a Nick Cave album, moody and slow. I’ve been to picturesque parks where neat little rows of ducklings quack and swim in placid pools. I’ve sat under old gnarled trees and watched pairs of oily starlings play all afternoon. I’ve watched the city come alive at twilight, as the last flickers of light give way to the shadow of evening. I’ve even sipped absinthe like the old masters used to do, in case some creativity was hidden in the bottle.

But of course all these methods make for a lovely day out and little else. So many notebooks, scraps of paper, and old receipts lay in a pile, discarded. I can’t begin to count how many times I tried to write the same story, once, twice, six times? Days passed into weeks and with them came the excuses: I deserve a break from all this writing; it’ll come to me eventually, what’s the rush?

I’ve often wondered if ideas exist on a different plane to this one. I was mulling over the ending to a particularly tricky scene for some time, and one afternoon while walking to my apartment I noticed some workmen in the block neighbouring mine, breaking windows and gutting the place. And there it was, like a scene playing out in a movie, the perfect ending for my novel. It just appeared in to my head, straight in to the ending-shaped hole that had been barren for weeks. I realised then that you can’t rush the process. Ideas will come in their own sweet time.

Two night’s ago I wrote an entire draft of a story in one sitting – the same story that had been plaguing me for weeks, and the plot was entirely different to what I had in mind in the first place. It flowed, came naturally. My fingers drummed the keyboard of their own accord, as if the story was telling itself after a long incubation period. I did’t stop until it was done and it felt truly wonderful to be able to create again.

What I took away from all of this is the idea that you don’t really lose creativity, nor can you find it. It finds you when the story is ready to be told. And because of that, we will always have something to write about.


Recent comments:

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    September 23rd, 2009 @19:24 #

    Lovely riff on the Romantic (with a capital R) idea of creativity, as something that is gifted to us. Thanks!

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Richard de Nooy</a>
    Richard de Nooy
    September 23rd, 2009 @22:39 #

    Very glad to read you're back at the keyboard doing what you need to do, Sally.

    I think the following sums up my wife's view on the topic quite succinctly:

    Creativity - The Gift That Keeps on Taking


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