Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The Creative Gene

By R.J. Harlick

Are you creative in other ways besides writing – i.e. photography, painting, music, widget making, any other creative pursuits that you might have? Tell us about them and why you pursued writing as a career instead of one of them.

Hmmm…. widget making sounds like fun or maybe gizmos… I can always use a gizmo or a thingamajig.

But joking aside, I suspect most of us fiction writers have a creative gene in our make-up. 

As far back as I can remember, and believe me that is a long time, I was creating something. From endless hours spent drawing pictures with crayons or water colours, or making fanciful figures out of coloured paper like the valentines I covered my bedroom walls with. My parents were not amused. The glue left quite the splotchy mess, which necessitated a complete re-painting of my room.  I seem to recall that I couldn’t go out to play with my friends for a week or two.

The time I enjoyed the most in English classes were the hours spent in creative writing. I loved making up my own fictitious worlds with words. Mostly they were short stories, but I wrote a longer piece, which needless to say was a mystery. I think I still have those pages stashed away somewhere in a box of childhood mementos.

Making music was another love. Since we didn’t have a piano, I started playing the violin, because it was offered through the school. I quickly graduated to private lessons, even got my own violin and did this for several years until the teenage years intervened, when it wasn’t cool to play the violin. So, I exchanged my violin for a guitar and pretended I was Jody Mitchell and the like. Though in the strictest sense, it can’t really be described as being creative, since I made music using other peoples’ compositions. Still I added my own interpretations.

I left the drawing behind once I moved into adulthood. I was never going to be a Van Gogh. Though I continued to play guitar, even took classical guitar lessons, I eventually gave it up too, primarily because a busy work life interferred with the time needed for practicing.

The camera eventually became my creative outlet. Still is. I have almost 11,000 digital photos on my computer and shelves of photo albums and boxes of slides from when dark room developed photos were the norm.  I’m into nature, can you guess, and have many quasi-artistic photos of flowers, sunsets, water views and the like. Some of them quite good, if I say so myself. And I mustn’t forget the hundreds of travel photos taken during our many trips to far and near flung places.

Though I came late in life to creative writing, a desire to write fiction was always present from the time I left high school. It percolated in the nether regions of my mind while I focused on other important happenings in my life, like the career climb. It was only when I decided it was time to move on from my career that I finally put the desire to write fiction into action.  

I suppose the reason I didn’t start sooner was because I didn’t really view writing novels as a career nor did I believe I could make enough money from it to live on. With a degree in psychology, I didn’t have the educational credentials to pursue a career in writing, such as journalism, where many fiction writers start.  For me, fiction writing was and still is a fun thing to do. I love the ability to create imaginary worlds and characters with nothing but words.  And if I happen to make a bit of money so doing, great. 

1 comment:

Dietrich Kalteis said...

That's interesting, Robin. And it's amazing how many other creative interests we share.