07 October, 2008

Supporting Creativity

Every holiday season, I do something creative for the Diva.  For the past two years I have put together themed calendars with pictures - a sort of scrapbook in calendar form.  Three years ago I wrote a book with her dad doing the illustrations.  She loved it.  This year, I am doing another book based on the State Alphabet books which we collect as we visit new states. 


For every letter in the book, there is a little poem about the Diva; little characteristics and traits, passions and desires, or words and phrases that she uses in a stanza. 


I am having trouble with one letter, and I bet you can't guess which one. 


The letter X. 


I have the first two lines of the stanza but am having trouble completing it, so... I asked my favorite walking dictionary and fellow Devine parent for some help.  I sent him an e-mail.  I received two in return, nearly immediately.   


In his credit, he saw what he had done and amended immediately so I received his amended e-mail response prior to his original, which was nice.


His first response - the one I read second- was along the lines of, are you kidding!  I have no time at all to do this.  I was thrilled that I read this second as I felt completely demoralized.  In my request, I didn't suggest that he do it now nor did I ask anything of the sort.  I felt my creative energy diminish.    


The second - the one I read first - said something like, I will be happy to help, but I don't have the time at the moment.  Let's talk about it.  I was happy that I read this one first.  The difference in my reaction was notable - it softened the blow of the other e-mail.  


The exchange highlights a question I have been asking myself, and others, in the past few days:  Can men provide the creative support that women desire and need?  


Granted, this is a generalization in full flight.  There are very creative men who can, without doubt, provide the creative support that women need just as there are women who do not provide such support.  The desire to have that external support is a desire, not necessarily needed or required.  Sometimes it is just nice to know that you can voice a thought or seek creative support and find it.  It is nice to have someone to share that creative energy.     


I grew up in an environment where my creative energy was fostered.  There were no limits to what we could do, dream, or create.  It wasn't until I entered the "real" world that I found resistance to creative thought.  People tend to find comfort in the tried and true.  The idea of stepping out of the box or jumping out of their jar is foreign if not scary.  I found environments that didn't exactly discourage creative or innovative thinking, but they didn't encourage it either. 


As I have considered the question of supporting creativity, I have found that women turn largely to other women for this support.  We share our dreams, our ideas, our hopes, our craziness with our women friends. 


My mom quilts.  She makes beautiful quilts and loves doing it.  My dad, bless his heart, supports her in every way he can, but her love and passion for the art is fostered and nurtured by women.  I see something similar in ballet where most of the dancers are girls.  I am always thrilled to see the dads involved in ballet - supporting their daughters creativity - some even participating when possible.


The Diva attends a school that is a bit more involved with writing and creating than I would have guessed.  She has wonderful art and music teachers along with a language arts program that encourages literary expression and development of ideas on paper as well as through verbal communication.  As a result, my house is all about pictures and stories, to the point that I have been a bit more lax than I once was about demonstrating my enthusiasm.  For my birthday, the Diva drew a wonderful picture of our housemates.  I immediately decided that we would have it framed and put it in the den/family room for everyone to see. 


I want to be the parent that supports and fosters her creative spirit.  I want her to know that it is beyond okay to create, to feel that passion, and to believe that she can make things happen.  I want her to know that ideas are gems.  Sure, not all ideas work or even should work, but the creativity behind them is worth celebrating. 


I throw the original question to you, can men provide the creative support that women need?  Do dads give this to their kids?  Do husbands give it to wives?  Do men provide it to other men?  Where do you find your creative support?  How do you give it to others?


dadshouse said...

I don't think creativity and creative support is a gender thing. I think emotional support is more feminine. Women are more in tune with each others emotions, and are more sensitive to each others feelings. I think that's the only difference.

Perhaps your creativity is tied up with your emotions. Mine isn't - it's totally separate. Of course I can feel emotions for the things I create, but if I don't get support from others, I don't let it affect my feelings.

harassedmomsramblings said...

I find guys offer a different take on creativity!

They think differently and see an idea from another perspective which I really enjoy.

Like your friend, they do seem a little more dismissive of creativity but if pushed a little or allowed the time to reflect on the idea can offer some great insight.

T said...

Hmmmm.... Dad's response was interesting. I wonder if it is an emotional thing? I know a married couple who are both artistic. He and I used to be in a band together and I met her through him. She is an artist and we shared a home for many years before I married. Now, they are both supporting themselves with their creativity. She is still painting and he is a photographer. Its interesting to see the emotions in their relationship because they are both so creative and emotional. It can get pretty uncomfortable there when both he and her are PMSing!!!

I say that because I don't think it is a gender thing. Maybe some people can separate their emotions from their creativity but others simply can't.

I think we all are capable of creativity but we just all do it differently. Some men may be creative with wood working and others with poetry or cooking. Some women may be creative with architecture or quilting. I think it is similar interests that determine whether or not you feel supported.

cathouse teri said...

I agree with David. I don't think it really has much to do with gender. Just personalities.

I find creative support from many, including strangers. It shows up in the oddest of places. But the basic reality is that I am propelled by my own creative energy and not dependent on anyone to urge it on. I have found that when I do depend on others, they tend to fail when I need them the most. Not because they don't care, but they just have their own things going on and their own flow. It's a bit like having a workout regimen. So tempting to team up with someone, calling on teamwork to keep you motivated. In reality, teaming up demotivates me in the long run. If they want to skip the workout one day, I skip it, too. Then, as everyone knows, even after one skip, it's hard to get back on track. So I choose not to work out with someone. It makes me much more disciplined, and I also enjoy it much more, as I consider this activity to be very private.

To encourage the creativity of others, the only thing I do is try to give them tools and opportunity. I will say that when someone asks me for my creative help, I prioritize it. I do everything in my power to provide that help. I do not take such requests lightly. But that's because I take creativity very seriously.