Carol Muske Dukes is the Poet Laureate of California, and director of the graduate program in literature and creative writing at the University of Southern California.
An author of a number of books of poetry and several novels, Dukes commented in our interview (a while ago) there is one “sure sign” someone is a writer: “A writer reads constantly, reads everything she can get her hands on, tears apart libraries and bookstores, never is without a book in hand.”
She thinks the “whole point” of reading is “to lose the self, to let the self go, and be swept away by other voices and experiences, by the aesthetic power of language itself, by words.”
“I thrive making order out of chaos.”
Painter Amadea Bailey continues in her thoughtful Artist Statement, “I love taking the irrational world of my emotions, hopes, fears, dreams, desires and idiosyncrasies and sculpting and re-arranging them in myriad ways until order is found.
“And paradoxically in this process my mind becomes still. I open myself up to something much bigger than myself.”
“Filled with energy… flooded with ideas… driven, restless, and unable to keep still… often works on little sleep… feels brilliant, special, chosen, perhaps even destined to change the world… can be euphoric… becomes easily irritated by minor obstacles… is a risk taker…”
That list is from the book The Hypomanic Edge : The Link Between (A Little) Craziness and (A Lot of) Success in America, by John D. Gartner, Ph.D. and probably applies to many in the huge community of creative minds in entertainment fields.
[Also see his article The Hypomanic Edge.]
A former entertainment lawyer (whose clients included Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones), Terri Cheney suffered for years from bipolar disorder, and has commented, “Hollywood is an industry of extremes. It is feast or famine, euphoria or despair. Everything has got to be faster, bigger, more, and right now! In a way, you need to be manic to survive.”
“I’ll never be the artist I was as a child.” Willa Cather
But how true is that notion?
How much do we benefit from having a child-like sense of play?
Don’t we need our adult intellect to be creative?
In her Creating in Flow blog post Creative Kids Learn to Flow (Part 1), Susan K. Perry, Ph.D. notes that a child so deeply involved in play they may ignore other people or an adult voice, is probably in a flow state, which “happens whenever you’re so absorbed in a task that you forget yourself.”
“The creative process shrivels in the absence of continual dialogue with the soul. And creativity is what makes life worth living.”
That is a quote by Jungian analyst and author Marion Woodman, on a topic also addressed by Julia Cameron in her classic book The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity.
“The heart of creativity is an experience of the mystical union… Those who speak in spiritual terms routinely refer to God as the creator but seldom see ‘creator’ as the literal term for ‘artist.’
“I am suggesting,” Cameron continues, “you take the term creator quite literally. You are seeking to forge a creative alliance, artist to artist, with the Great Creator.”
There are plenty of mundane designs for wedding and party cakes, but Leigh Grode and Joan Spitler combined their talents to make creations that are much more extravagant for their company, Cake Divas.
They started out making wedding cakes, and chose to locate in Los Angeles to supply movie and television productions, and now provide items for a wide range of celebrities and events.
Their elaborate cake designs can take up to three days to prepare, may cost up to $1,800, and are usually too delicate to be shipped out of state.
It takes more than simply having exceptional intellectual or creative abilities to make an impact.
A Psychology Today article – Why Prodigies Fail – warns that most childhood prodigies “never fulfill their promise.”
“Perseverance is a key part of it,” says Robert Root-Bernstein, co-author with Michele Root-Bernstein of Sparks of Genius: The Thirteen Thinking Tools of the World’s Most Creative People.
He continues, “Many of them say that their expectations were warped by their early experiences.”
The article notes, “When success comes too easily, prodigies are ill prepared for what happens when the adoration goes away, their competitors start to catch up and the going gets rough.”
Researcher Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi includes in his books and other writings descriptions of the diversity and multiple characteristics of creative people.
In a post of hers, Juliet Bruce, Ph.D. notes that Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced me-high chick-sent-me-high-ee) wrote, “If there is one word that makes creative people different from others, it is the word complexity. Instead of being an individual, they are a multitude.”
“Like the color white that includes all colors, they tend to bring together the entire range of human possibilities within themselves. Creativity allows for paradox, light, shadow, inconsistency, even chaos – and creative people experience both extremes with equal intensity.”