Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Honoring Your Creativity

By Lisa Hughey

So I’ve started and stopped a billion (okay, a slight exaggeration on the number, but this morning it feels like a billion) posts on this topic. I am not creative. At least not the way I’d like to be.

I think of creative writers as those who craft a line of prose so wonderful and lyrical that you’re forced to stop and marvel at it's beauty. But that’s not me.

Artists whose paintings/sculptures make you catch your breath at it's power. But that’s not me. I can’t paint or draw worth a damn (that was in an early version).

Photographers whose images stun you. But that’s not me. I take adequate photos with nice composition. (again earlier version).

I could go on and on, but I’m assuming that no one wants to read all the ways that I personally am not creative. I even started a post completely off topic because I wanted to re-cap the RWA conference, which was ‘oh so much fun’ this year.

I don’t have the creative gene needed to take an abstract concept and explore the meaning with beautiful language. My creative strength lies in pacing. In romance, in recognizing that unique and beautiful confluence of two separate people who because some characteristic of their psyche are perfect for each other and who become stronger as a whole.

And in plotting. In twists, in unexpected directions, in finding the universal truth in details.

Like the time there was a white banged up van with no windows (a kidnap van, my kids like to call it--uh yeah wonder where they got that from?) parked in my neighbor’s driveway, no lettering on the side and the driver was wearing a cap pulled down so far you couldn’t see his face.

Now, I know for a fact my neighbor is in Michigan for the summer. So of course I immediately think, hmm, perhaps they are being robbed. (hey, we’ve had a string of robberies in our community lately, I’m not completely paranoid!) I drive around the circle (we live on a circle) trying unobtrusively to figure out how to copy down the license plate number of the van without actually looking like I’m trying to copy it down, which never does work. I end up parking across and down the street, hovering behind my car, punching their plate numbers into the memo section of my phone, in case the police need it later.

But then I find out it’s merely a broken sprinkler main and their backyard is flooded. Okay. So perfectly logical explanation.

But now I might use that scene, the van, the driver and his passenger (who I’m sure are perfectly nice people), except in my work, the people aren’t perfectly nice, they are there to do damage in some way which I haven’t figured out yet. And when my heroine sees them, she will have the perfect method to get their license plate number, perhaps photographic memory (is there anyone in the world who *doesn’t* wish they had this capability?), but more likely she’ll use an intelligence surveillance technique that I’ve discovered in my research. And of course the license plate number will be registered to a fake company, and then...well now I’m getting tangential.

But hopefully I’ve taken that detail, that universal experience that everyone has had at least once in their life (of course if you are me, you have them all the time) and the reader connects with the heroine or hero over the shared experience, even though their method of dealing with the situation is completely different--assuming most of the readers out there are not espionage agents reading laymen spy novels on their day off.


ps. If you want a recap of the conference, Rachael has a really fun one on her blog FYI, I was present at the ‘no pants’ conversation however *I* was fully dressed. We had a blast.


Sophie Littlefield said...

It's true, in case anyone is wondering - Lisa *is* always on the lookout for nefarious goings-on. Woe to any bad guys who ever do come after us, because Lisa will have them knocked flat and turned in before the rest of us look up from our snacks... :)

Hard Boiled Mysti said...


If a person can be people-smart (I've often longed to trade in my book-smart for people-smart!), they can certainly be relationship-creative and pace-creative. I just love it when the rhythm of a book pulls you along!!!


Lisa Hughey said...

Mysti--too true except pacing doesn't fit my idea of what 'creative' really is. :) There are all kinds of creativity. It's just remembering to honor your own strengths and not beat yourself up about what you are NOT good at.