This month’s theme has caused me to be more thoughtful than usual. Perhaps because it is more intangible then most of the themes that have been covered in the magazine and also because I have never thought of myself as being creative. Not that I have spent much time thinking about it, but I know that when I have been, in some form of another, confronted by ‘creativity’, my response has been to immediately think about how un-creative I am.
I think that in my younger, lacking-in-confidence days, it was another aspect of life that I judged myself on and found myself wanting. I think that this was about how I thought about creativity, twofold in essence: original in some way and being artistic.
I saw myself as being completely lacking in imagination and incapable of drawing, singing, playing a musical instrument, etc., etc. I was not creative.
I looked up my Collins dictionary (yes a proper one, with covers and pages) and it told me the following:
- having the ability to create (i.e. to cause something into existence)
- characterised by originality of thought; having or showing imagination
- designed to or tending to, stimulate the imagination
So, my understanding of the originality/imagination was right but perhaps a bit too prescriptive about the creating side. Perhaps I judged myself too harshly, in retrospect, on both counts, at least in my working life.
I worked in local government for fourteen years, the last six of which was in strategy and policy development. I did not create much that was tangible, but I had to mine the depths of my limited imagination to find ways to motivate and engage other public and 3rd sector organisations, the local authority was required to work, in partnership with. For many of the players it was difficult to give up, as they saw it, sole control of their resources. When you are trying to get organisations as diverse as the police and health service professionals, for example, to co-operate by pooling resources and expertise, you had your work cut out then. I wonder if anything has changed?
I also became adept at seeing the good in other people’s ideas and projects and worked to create a version which would suit the challenges, I was facing in my area of work. When you are dealing with complex social issues, it is always interesting to look at how others are dealing with the challenge.
Years later I re-trained to be a yoga teacher and I also learned to do massage for relaxation and therapeutic applications. I found that both of these provided plenty of scope for interpretation and adaptation. While, particularly in Swedish massage, you are taught to do a precise sequence, I found myself taking what I knew and creating something different with it, depending on the needs of the client. I loved teaching yoga but particuarly enjoyed, especially in the early days, creating programmes for classes and then later for workshops. I loved taking a theme and working something round that.
After many years of working, in different areas, I find that I can concede that I may have some ability within me to be creative; but then I suspect that we all do.
The articles that we have had submitted this month are quite diverse in how the subject has been approached. We have some articles from people in the creative industries, for example, mediaco-op, with some fine examples of their work included. Others demonstrate an approach more akin to mine, in how we interpret the word.
Anne Casey is business manager at the3rdimagazine.