Saturday, December 19, 2009

Our Creative Destiny

By Keith Fisher

We have a porch swing in our backyard. It’s just a bench hanging from an old swing-set frame. Last summer, I set down to relax and a slit-second later, I was lying on my back with parts of the swing scattered over me. After the initial shock, I found humor in the situation, but I still wonder if God was teaching me a lesson in humility.

It was old. The wood had rotted, and the nails were rusting through, to the point of falling apart. Using some of the pieces as a guide, I improved the design and built a new, stronger, one.

After hanging it, I sat down and admired my work. My mother came over, and I persuaded her to sit and admire it to. Somehow I got roped into building one for her, for Christmas. So, You might guess what I’ve been up to lately.

I have a problem with my mother’s swing, however, I have to design and build a support frame. Mom’s house is like many others these days. It doesn’t have an overhang big enough to hang a swing from.

My frame will be beautiful, but I worried about it supporting the weight. I used to design houses so I have a working knowledge of board stresses, but how do you figure weight variables for a three-person bench when you have no idea how big the people will be? Needless to say, I’ve been doing some thinking. I finished the bench part yesterday, and while it was on the sawhorses, I sat and admired my workmanship.

I love the feeling I get from building something from scratch with my own hands, but it made me think. Why do we create? Why do writers, write? Why do painters, paint? What is the attraction in writing a song and having the whole world sing along? Hey, that rhymes.

Realists would say it has something to do with ego, and in the case of some authors, that may be partially true. On the other hand, I’ve seen very humble writers who are the first to admit their dependence on other people’s help. Truly humble people are like that, thinking of others first, but what drives them to follow the creative urge?

Is it merely the satisfaction of a job well done? What about those who have a burning desire to write, but their finished manuscript gets rejected? Or the person who sits down to sew a shirt and makes one sleeve shorter than the other? It can’t be easy to hear laughter during a piano recital, after you’ve made a mistake.

It seems like something happens in the mind during creation. It fills the soul with endorphins and taps into what I believe is our creative destiny. A few years ago, I built a deck with an intricate series of angles spilling onto each other. I had some trouble with one of the angles and showed my frustration verbally. The neighbor heard me, and asked if I needed any help. I said, “No this is my therapy.”

In my writing, I’ve had moments when a plot comes together, or when a sudden flash of inspiration hits. We often say these are the times when our characters speak to us. These are the golden moments, the therapeutic seconds when we feel rewarded.

God has given his children many talents. Some of us are better at one thing than others. With hard work, we can develop any talent we choose. If we look at our rejected, finished product, we will see the parts where we reached our moment of clarity. It was the moment when we approached our creative destiny.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.


L.T. Elliot said...

I've been pondering this same thing lately. Why do I write? Why do I feel the need to create stoires? When it's so hard and sometimes rather discouraging, why do I keep at it?
I think because I must. Because it makes me happy. Because it feels right.
It doesn't surprise me that someone so talented wit htheir words can also create such masterpieces with their hands. The bench is beautiful, Keith.

Merry Christmas!

Bethany Wiggins said...

What a beautiful post. I love those moments when the book seems to already be written and it speaks to me from that finished state, guiding my hand in the direction it wants me to go.

As for talents, I was sitting in church a few weeks ago when a woman with a heavenly voice sang from the pulpit. My daughter tugged on my sleeve. "Mom," she whispered. "Don't you wish you could sing like her?"
I replied, "If I was blessed with a voice like that, I wouldn't be a writer. And I'd rather write than sing."