One of yesterday's Google daily quotes was from Thomas Edison:
To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.
And, I would add, a good staff:
Dig those shoes! And those pigtails! Emma is the flower girl at her uncle's wedding next weekend, and we are practicing "Here Comes The Bride" (Jim plays it on the piano) while Emma strews pink petals from her basket and walks "down the aisle" -- well, so far only her mother is walking down the aisle, but we're going to keep at it. Some would say this sort of activity is distracting. I call it part of the pile of junk. Or is it part of the imagination?
I would also add that creativity needs a good lunch. Here's what we found at the farmer's market this week, and a sample of lunch times (our big meal of the day) at our home, where Jim and I work, live, sleep.
My notebooks are full of grocery lists. Right in the middle of working out a story, here comes a page with eggs, celery, broccoli written on it... or to-do lists. Last week, I had written, right across the top of the page in all caps: PAY QUARTERLY TAXES!!
Self-employed people pay twice the FICA, since we are employer and employee (if you work for a company, that company pays FICA taxes to the IRS, just like you do and in equal amounts), and I can grouse about that, but mostly I consider it part of the price I pay to be my own employer, which I love.
I can come to work in my pajamas (I'm in my pajamas right now), sit with my laptop anywhere I want (I'm sitting in the family room, in the pink chair, looking out at the back yard), and work on whatever I choose (I'm blogging now; later I will work on the novel). I can invent to my heart's content, and stop to make a midday meal, to work in the garden, to practice the wedding march with a young friend.
I'm pretty sure Edison was talking about inventions of the mechanical, electrical, or physical kind, but what I heard as I read that quote was "create" in addition to "invent." To create, to invent, requires more than that pile of junk and imagination.
It requires a degree of safety, too,
and stability... unless you are in one of those movies where time is running out and necessity is the mother of invention and survival -- but that's another story.
For me, creating, inventing, requires a fairly stable life, a sense of safety and community, a pretty good diet of friends and food and music and laughter and also solitude. Balance. Willingness. Desire. Perseverance.
Also, perhaps, a room of one's own -- my entire living room (the living/dining room) is my office. When I shut the doors, no one enters, no one even knocks unless he is on fire or bleeding. Well, not really. But I can squirrel myself away in my office for hours on end, and just... write. And I do.
And a muse -- creativity requires a muse! There sits my muse, with his hand drum, trying to keep time while Cyndi sings us a song. My office door (one of two) is right behind Jim's right arm. It's closed, but I'm not in it -- I'm enjoying the company... and the music.
And lastly... I need a place to retreat to that has nothing to do with writing. A walk up Stone Mountain. A red chair in my garden. A place where the writing rests, although it bubbles underneath, and I can focus on nothing. Or something else -- weeds, say. Or neighbors. The cat. The lunch in my lap. The sun on my face. The world at my fingertips.
What do you need to create? To invent? Do you have it? How can you get it? What would your list look like if you headed it "To Invent..." or "To Create...."
See you next week. I'm off to create.