Over the last eight months, I have had the opportunity to collaborate with three talented poets on a illustrated poem, work in the Alberta Phonetics Lab, write and illustrate a book about giraffes on skates for my niece and nephew, help my dad finish painting my grandpa’s truck, and spend most of my summer focusing on editing my novel. All of these opportunities have reinforced for me to joys, frustrations and sorrows of being a creative person.
Whether I am writing with other people, looking for missing truck parts, or making myself write and edit a certain amount during a week, creativity and completing projects is not easy. It is enormously rewarding, but never easy.
Collaborative art and creativity are both more rewarding and more difficult than solo work. Scheduling, creative differences and interpersonal communication make each collective project more challenging, but they also give you the external stimuli and impetus that is hard to find internally when you are working alone. Putting the truck together with my dad, sister, brother-in-law and uncle was the highlight of my summer. It was so much fun to see the completion of the project and to work with people I love. This is why I believe community is so important. Although the majority of my novel is solo work and alone am responsible for completing it, having my family ask me how it is going is a good encouragement. Having my sister knock on my door while I am writing to give me chocolate because I had told her I was struggling, is a wonderful blessing and encouragement. For those of you who are shocked that I now eat chocolate, I will let you know that I am still picky and only like expensive chocolate. Also, I still do not drink coffee, not that they are in anyway similar other than both being caffeinated.
It is the little moments of thought and interaction that create community. In the same way it is those moments where ideas, words and character come together and flow onto the page that good writing happens. There is no way of knowing when that is going to be, but if you are not trying to write you are more likely to miss the opportunity. If you are not admitting to others your struggles they cannot encourage you and if you are not forcing yourself to write even when nothing of any worth ends up on the page, you are likely to miss those moments when you actually can write.
Like all creative forms, the hardest part of writing is making yourself write and the hardest part of community is remembering to notice and talk to the people around you.
Community is important for everyone, but I think it is essential for creative people. Even if like me you tend to create in solitude, having the encouragement and support of a community is very important. I want to encourage all creative people and those of you who know creative people, to be intentional about being in community.
I am greatly looking forward to collaborating once again in a poetic community this fall.