I recently read a post on Austin Kleon’s blog, “The Garden Where Ideas Grow,” that I found encouraging and even life-giving. For those of you who don’t know of Kleon, he writes about creativity and is the author of several books, most recently Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad. The blog post spoke of creativity as being like gardening, which rang true for me even though I’m not a gardener, in the literal dig-in-the dirt sense of the word. Each of us has notes for some creative idea planted in a number of places, such as emails or letters, journal pages, new project files, the margins of books, blog posts, and so on, and these seeds don’t go anywhere while they’re in those places. But then—and often rather out of the blue, because you didn’t realize at the time when you wrote these notes or phrases that you were really planting seeds—a moment comes and you’re surprised to see something germinate and push toward the light, and you realize then that all this time that seed had been growing tender roots. I discovered that this week with something I had worked on over 3 years ago.
I had been reading Dancing on the Head of A Pen by Robert Benson, and he wrote about how he writes 600 words every morning related to an emerging project and uses the rest of the day, all of the rest of the day, to work on projects that are further along or market the ones that are already out in the world. As I read it I thought how wonderful and wise, that this is how the work gets done, but the next day as I got ready to start my day job, I felt nearly upset at what I’d read because it so clearly leaves out someone like me, and perhaps you, who has to give so much to other things like earning a living. Then I remembered the little project from 3 years ago, and it clicked together in my brain with the Kleon blog post about creativity being like gardening and the clue from Benson of giving a certain number of words per day to something new, and so now something new is slowly growing and in a fun way, come what may from it.
I mention this because maybe it will cause you to think of something you started once upon a while and to wonder whether roots have yet formed hidden.
[Photo: Dusk, the evening after summer solstice, at one of Minneapolis’s beautiful lakes.]