Caffeinated Creative Connections

Caffeinated Notes

November has been declared National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) by a fairly nutty organization that encourages a fairly nutty group of people to write a 50,000-word novel in one month.

The motto: “The quickest, easiest way to produce something beautiful and lasting is to risk making something horribly crappy.”

This November, I’ve decided to join in. For an hour or two a day, every day this month, I’m doing my best to write a horribly crappy novel. Along the way, I’m learning a few things:

  • I’m seeing the value in avoiding perfection, and perhaps even in embracing imperfection.

Getting caught up in the preciousness of words can be a big inhibitor to writing, just as valuing precise lines can stall a drawing, and overthinking anything can create a roadblock. I’m finding out that writing a chapter a day can be fairly painless, as long as I don’t ever look back at what I’ve written.

  • There is something incredibly hopeful in the fact that hundreds of thousands of people would want to undertake this creative adventure.

As wannabe writers, we’ve all been touched and inspired by something we’ve read, and we want to create this type of experience for someone else. Writing and reading, caring about fictional characters and trying to express truths through them– these acts connect strangers and widen our scope of human compassion.

  • I’m really, really good at distracting myself.

While doing so recently, I stumbled across this video about photographer Richard Renaldi’s Touching Strangers project. He finds random people on the streets of New York City and asks them to pose in pictures together as if they were family members, friends or lovers. Oddly enough, the subjects end up feeling intimately connected to the people they are photographed with, and the images reflect this.

There’s a parallel tangent somewhere here. We typically go through our daily routines judging ourselves, judging others and not seeing our ties to the strangers we pass along the way. But…

  • Creative acts have the power to help us let go of our egos and connect with others.

The people in Richard Renaldi’s photographs connect with each other for brief moments because they are staged in situations without judgment for each other. They are told to think of the other person as a cherished loved one, and that is what they end up feeling. The photographs are captivating because they reflect this momentary connection, and also because they show real, raw people in real, raw settings.

When we can suspend our judgment of ourselves, we become free to write, draw, make horribly crappy messes and possibly create something that will touch someone else. Maybe it is even through our crappy messes– through our character’s angst (which is a lot like our own), our poor metaphors, our bad handwriting and our crooked lines– that we are able to reach out.

Well, anyway, that is my highly caffeinated, meandering reflection this stormy November morning. I suppose I should go blunder through another chapter now.

May your own day be cozy and full of creative connections.


One Response

  1. This seems so metaphysical — the idea of interrelatedness, the pattern, the web that connects us all. I love the idea that we can free ourselves in order to get into the essence of life that is all around, outside of ourselves, that connects us with the unknown and allows us to discover that it was never really foreign, but actually just another facet of an undiscovered part of our own self, disguised in an unfamiliar face that we have finally recognized, and finally been able to embrace.

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