musings, thoughts, and writings of Barbara W. Klaser


January 3, 2007

Creativity as order from chaos

My sister emailed me about my post, Interconnections, parallels, and epiphany. She got me to thinking about how individually we process things that happen in our personal lives through our writing and artwork. (Aside from teaching yoga, Helen creates paintings and collages.)

Working with people in non-fiction-related activities has fed into my fiction quite a lot. That was especially true when I worked in an office. I don’t mean anything as obvious as basing a character on a real person. I don’t think I’ve ever done that. Working with people helped me understand better how we interact, provided observations about life, and helped me train my ear for how people talk. In fact everything I experience while away from creative activity tends to feed into it. This includes all the trials, lessons, emotions both powerful and subtle, and all other information and events that life sends my way. In creative expression we have the opportunity to turn dross into riches, or one form of richness into another.

I think perhaps creativity is 50% input and 50% output, or maybe it’s a form of breath, inhaling one thing, processing it, then exhaling something different. The inhalation has to take place, or . . . you run out of air, you suffocate. It follows that the exhalation must also take place, which may be why people who experience trauma sometimes wind up with post-traumatic stress (PTSD). They have no opportunity or ability to process, honor, and exhale what that trauma creates inside them. We can get stuck in grief, too, whether it be grief for a loved one who’s died, or something else in our lives that has moved on or faded away.

Of course what we breathe in is critical to the process. But fiction and art are so eclectic, almost anything will feed them, depending on our willingness to shape the product of our creativity to fit what must be expressed.

There are times when we attempt to create but haven’t gone through enough inhalation to sustain the process, or haven’t done enough processing and reflection. I suspect that’s the cause of many blocks we experience, except when they’re caused by our unwillingness to face whatever in us we must face to fully process it as creative product.

Now that I spend more time at home, even a walk or a drive to the grocery store and talking to the clerks or people in line can be part of that inhalation process. The same goes for reading, listening to music, poetry, interacting with neighbors or my pets.

Fiction or art — or any creative activity — is where we can take in the confusion and chaos that the world dishes out and make sense and order out of it. Creativity doesn’t have to be engaged in with the hope of making money. Perhaps in many ways it’s more satisfying when it’s not. Many people enjoy needlework, cooking, gardening, decorating, woodwork, or photography. Even self-grooming and assembling a wardrobe can provide an important outlet. I don’t think of that as vain, I think instead of hunter-gatherer clans in which self-decoration is a primary creative endeavor.

I put my own peculiar stamp on whatever I take in before returning it to the world. We all do. We might as well do so creatively, constructively, lovingly, intentionally. It could be that we need this as much as the air we breathe.

— Barbara @ rudimentary 5:05 pm PST, 01/03/07

April 10, 2006

Extrovert or introvert?

Eric Mayer’s post on Serious Business made me think about how we’re perceived or misperceived by others, when we blog or when we’re face to face. The tangent I take on this has to do with introverts and extroverts. I don’t presume to know which Eric is. His post made me think about this because I’m an introvert, and I picked up a book again just yesterday on this topic.

Introverts tend not to be as outwardly expressive, or to let others deep into our worlds as readily as extroverts. We’re not bubbly, cheery people for the most part. We tend to ponder. We enjoy time alone and many of us don’t like noise or interruptions. Introversion is a natural personality trait, and though introverts are probably in the minority, there’s nothing wrong with being so. We don’t dislike people, but people are sometimes difficult for us to be with. I think this has a lot to do with energy exchange and personal boundaries. It doesn’t mean anyone’s done anything wrong. It usually means we have different styles of interacting. Different people respect varying personal thresholds.

Is either an introvert or an extrovert better than the other? Of course not, and a world of all one or the other wouldn’t work for me. I see this as a yin/yang kind of thing. I hesitate even to group people into broad classifications like this. Each person is unique, a blend of many elements, but most of us lean one way or the other toward extroversion or introversion, some more so, and I think it’s the “more so” people where introversion is concerned who wind up with others trying to change them, and feeling misunderstood. (more…)

— Barbara @ rudimentary 10:30 pm PST, 04/10/06

January 17, 2006

What ever happened to aprons?

The latest issue of Piecework features vintage aprons, including a collection with themes like Visit to Grandmother’s Farm, and Cycle of Life. My favorite is the peridot green gingham with cross-stitch embroidery depicting the Eternal Question, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” Aprons remained in vogue during the entire first half of the twentieth century, when most women worked at home. Sometime during the sexual revolution, aprons lost favor, except for men working the outdoor barbeque, proud of their culinary skills, pleading for kisses as rewards.

A lot of changes took place during that time. In the course of just ten years, my siblings and I went through big changes in what clothing was acceptable, and who was expected to make it.

When my oldest sister was in junior high school, she came home one day upset because her friend had been sent home for her skirt being too short, a crime proven by use of a ruler. My guess today is that either the fabric shrank in the wash, or she’d gone through a sudden growth spurt in the legs. After all, she wasn’t “that kind of girl.” In high school my oldest sister belonged to an organization called Future Homemakers of America. Many of the girls who belonged made their own homecoming and prom dresses. One girl in my sister’s class earned the reverence of her peers when she stitched hers completely by hand. (more…)

— Barbara @ rudimentary 6:44 pm PST, 01/17/06


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