So what is it that makes someone who writes paint?

Or someone who paints, make music? Or someone who makes film, write poetry? Or, for that matter, someone who designs buildings also write, compose, paint and take artistic photographs? Pretty obvious really, I suppose. For doesn’t it all come from the same source. Inspiration. That orgasmic, organic drive to create. It’s just, in some people, it works it’s way through to the solid world along many different channels.

And it takes a little navigating through the ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’ way of thinking. Which can be true, but not always. Definitely not always. It’s maybe just a case of things taking a lot longer to establish when you’re one of those creatives, like me, who just can’t be tied down to a life of servitude to only one face of the muse. But if you’re trying to establish an income – trying to turn your creative endeavours into cash – it usually pays to stick to one area and carve your niche there. That’s life made a little easier. And, indeed, that sort of challenge can be very exciting. Putting your creativity into your strategic planning. Your brand. etc. etc.

I’ve thought about that. I’ve conversed with my business self many times and that part of me makes perfect, logical sense. (I have a very entrepreneurial spirit, after all). But, I get tired of logic, don’t you? And also the corporate-speak that is creeping into every facet of our lives, even creativity. (I shook my head in disbelief when I recently came across a corporate buzz-word ‘Kaizen’ used in an artistic setting. Homogenization horror!)

For deep down, and I mean really deep down – there is an urgency to create freely, no matter what. No matter if I’m not able to be successful. For that’s the thing. How do you judge your success. How do you measure it? For me, that’s easy. I judge my success by my own standards. I have my own agenda. My own philosophy. I’m happy to do what FEELS right. If that’s creating a short film – great. If that’s painting a series of large panels – great. If that’s writing story into play, or novel, or short story format- then so be it. If that’s exiling myself to a cave to express in reams of poetry… why not? It might not work for some, but for others, this sort of practice can cross germinate. One project or expression can inject a growth spurt into another. Or allow it time to evolve over a long period of time, while you turn your eyes away and rest them on another medium. It can keep you energised and moving. A creative fire, alive and burning rather than a growing heap of dust.

It can also keep you poor. For a potentially long time. Depends if you have that lucky touch of being in the right place at the right time. I’m not counting on luck though. I’ve tried the lottery a few times. Nothing doing. So I’m in for the long haul. I’m making a friend of time. A key component in all this, I have to admit.

So, that’s me! But how about you? Do you create ‘across the board’ or do you focus on one thing? Is there something you’d love to try in another art form other than the one you work in?

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The intoxicant of choice…

…to boost creativity has to be… music. Well we can’t go on being the reckless wildchild of our youth forever can we? So no, the healthy option has to be music. That powerful memory cue (which can transport us back to those wild and reckless days), and a universal feature of human societies. And the perfect way as a writer, to immerse yourself into the heart of your character or the underlying emotional pull of your story. The unifying feel of it.

After all, isn’t music capable of evoking exceptionally strong emotions in us? Can it not be heavily relied on to affect our mood? It’s a well documented fact (for those of us that didn’t know by intuition), that music in Minor Keys evoke a sense of melancholy, while music in Major Keys evoke a sense of happiness – as a general rule. In fact, there’s a lot of scientific study around sound frequency/music and it’s affect on our brain and perception, etc. Quite interesting stuff if you have the inclination. So by choosing a musical piece (preferably an instrumental – as lyrics can interfere with the writing side of your brain) – in the right key, you will place yourself in the perfect frame of mind to express the underlying emotional theme of your story or character. It’s totally visceral.

21 Gram Film Poster

While writing The Ungecila Report – a short story about a man living in a future yet to be recognised as dystopian, and drawn into a conspiracy that saw his father murdered at the hands of a secret government agency – I played these 3 tracks on a loop the whole time. In this story, our man is a reluctant hero. My favourite kind. Take a listen to him…

Tazarine – from the film ‘Babel
When Our Wings Are Cut, Can We Still Fly? – from the film ‘21 Grams
Iguazu – also from Babel (and all 3 composed by the wonderful Gustavo Santoalalla)

Can you hear that sort of downbeat, heaviness? The hangdog melancholic pulled along by circumstance? Well, that was what I heard. Now, whenever I listen to these compositions, they have imprinted the desire to write him some more. He lives, breathes and suffers in these sounds.

If that sounds nuts… so what. It works. For me at least. But whatever your reason for listening, there’s no getting around it – music is a joy. Food for the soul and it’s creative spark, and don’t we all need a bit of that.