Thursday, March 8, 2012

The myth of talent and the muse in the corner

This morning’s musings are a bit of a mashup on creative juices and what that has to do with archery are brought to you by Amy Winehouse, Ella Fitzgerald and Madeleine Peyroux.  Creative people, I want your input here on whether this rambling makes sense to you. Let ‘er rip.

I have been lately enjoying some of the older TED Talks on creativity. If you have still not checked them out, make it your Sunday morning webby destination with a big cup of coffee.  Totally worthwhile.  After watching Elizabeth Gilbert, Author of Eat, Pray, Love and Adam Savage from Mythbusters, talk about how they deal with what the modern idea of what a muse is and keeping the engine running , it got me thinking about the parallels between the creative process (also a big part of my life) and the learning process for perfecting your shot.  I know a lot of archery friends and family that are compelled to make stuff just to get it out of your head. You know who you are. 

Finding the Zen zone in practice and execution. That addictive place you want more of, when the shot comes off easy and hits the X, or the idea that strikes you when you have paper and pen in reach. You know you want it. It feels amazing. Eventually, it lasts longer and longer and is easier to get there in the first place.  It applies to the physical as well as the mental side of things. When the words pour out of the keyboard or the painting materializes in record time, it’s a combination of everything coming together. Perfection.  I know, I know, I used the P-word. Naughty.

Trickier still when you add in the notion of a muse. Not sure it applies equally to archery, but people that you train and shoot with on a regular basis definitely apply as motivation. As in the kick in the ass when you need it most, or just a helpful observation when things are wonky and you can’t sort it out.  I have to admit I love the notion  of the dead-sexy (male) Greek muse hanging out in my studio and bringing me chocolate cake and great ideas. Alas, hubby does not. ;-)  Ideas come from everywhere if you are paying attention.  The light at a certain time of day or the funky gourd lamp you saw online. Can you make a quiver out of a gourd? I’ll probably try it at some point.  In the good old days, the muse got the blame if the experiment didn’t fly.  If the gourd flops, it’ll just gather dust until I toss it on the bonfire pile out back.

The myth of talent. This is a highly debated area.  My personal view is that those who work the hardest, usually overcome. Look at all of the para-archers who figured out how to shoot without an arm, leg or a set of eyes and then set records. Proof that there is no crying in baseball.  You still have to show up and do the work. You need to be willing to fail when the experiment doesn’t work, too. That part is the hardest for me.  Same for the creative stuff.  The kid who spends his recess (Do kids still have recess?) drawing is going to be the rock star art director, but maybe without the jump shot. You have to learn to see before it can go on paper. Practice and experimentation, the process is different, but if you are an artist, your brain is there 24/7, looking for pattern, color, keeping your filter open and always looking for the missing magic. 

My personal experience tends to run hot. I learn best under pressure and my friends confirm by laughing loudly that I am a “jump in with both feet first” kinda gal. Start a blog with not much writing experience, hold nose and jump in.  It’s helped me find my own voice.  There’s no testing temperature with a toe first. Swim, dammit.  

Whatever feeds your head, do whatever you can to keep it happy and productive. Korean food with a creative friend, or get some tune up lessons from a local pro. If you are into other sports or activities, there are likely useful parallels you can pull in on balance or timing.  Hang out more where your ideas seem to find you. Except maybe in the shower. That just makes you late for work.


Michael Osadciw said...

I think you're definitely on track here. A creative mind is one that you can't turn off. It's always lurking there in the background observing, shoving it's way to the front when a eureka moment arrives, no matter how awful or inappropriate. Talent is a valid part of creativity, but I think it's just the spark, or the ability to put up with failure in something you like to do. Practice and working hard are still the only way to succeed.
My muse is just my creative self-concious yelling at me to stop being a responsible adult and quit my job and run around making stuff. Yeah, sure that would be fun, but I like being able to pay for stuff and keep my family fed too. So the muse needs a talking too occasionally.

Amanda MacDonald said...

Yes, I often want to stop being responsible and just make stuff, too. Sometimes being an adult sucks. ;) I have to keep a journal handy to do a brain dump on those days when my thoughts are zipping around and keeping me from doing the stuff that keeps me in arrows and saddle blankets.

PinkFletchings said...

oh boy! this is a fun one! So much of my life is coming together this year as I admit to myself what my heart really wants to do and guess what I have discovered? I also have a lot of talent in these areas. The big ones here are archery and improv acting! Talent I believe is really the love one has for a particular subject, field, art, discipline, sport, etc. And then there is the matter of practice, practice, practice, process, process, process - the doing. Ira Glass calls it the gap. I have it posted somewhere on my facebook wall but he essentially says that we all have great taste (talent) but there is a gap between who we deem great and ourselves and the way to bridge that gap is through doing the thing! Brilliant. So are your musings. And the muse to me is how present we are in the moment of doing whatever we're doing. When I am at the outdoor archery range and I see how clear and blue the skies are, the leaves flying by or the hawks or the light changing as the sun sets and all the other archers practicing and the peace from shooting alone, no trying or performing, only doing - that to me is the muse, aka the fun.

Amanda MacDonald said...

"I see how clear and blue the skies are, the leaves flying by or the hawks or the light changing as the sun sets and all the other archers practicing and the peace from shooting alone, no trying or performing, only doing - that to me is the muse, aka the fun."