sucking woundy pain.

I was going back over some old posts yesterday – mostly because I keep noticing my spelling and grammar fails, not to mention missing words I’ve just assumed I’ve typed and oh look, NO.

Anyway, the one on allowing for mistakes made me go and re-read this article by Samuel McNerney on the Scientific American Blog Network which I initially discovered via Ian Leslie on twitter (you should follow him, and his Marbury blog, btw). It’s about creativity – proper, genius level, creativity (Stravinksy and Picasso and the ilk), rather than the talented to very talented level that most of us are working with, and it includes the following:

What’s important is that for decades researchers like Gardner and Dean Keith Simonton have distinguished between “little c” and “big C” creativity, in which the latter more closely aligns with what Nietzsche had in mind. We should return to the uppercased version of the word. Generating a good idea isn’t reading a “top-ten ways to boost your creativity” article. Nor is it cherry picking from the latest cognitive psychology research. As Nietzsche described in The Gay Science, it is like delivering and nurturing a child. “We must constantly give birth to our thoughts out of our pain and maternally endow them with all we have of blood, heart, fire, pleasure, passion, agony, conscience, fate, and disaster.

The reference to Nietzsche is about his belief that creativity is not about solving puzzles, divergent thinking or making remote associations but about destroying old systems of thought and breaking from the status quo. You know, the big scary stuff that Nietzsche liked to play with.

We’d all like to think that we’re there. Or that we could be Mozart without all the family traumas and mental breakdowns that went with it. But McNerney goes on to say the following:

Of course, it is difficult to describe “big c” creativity without sounding like a clichéd commencement speaker. For one, it is nearly impossible to convey the “embrace failure” message without coming across banal. Indeed, failure is inevitable and important. But pointing out that “mistakes are simply the portals of discovery” is hindsight babel that loses touch with the reality that failure is horrible–even nauseating–and that most creative projects never see the light of day

And it’s true. I can tell myself every time I screw something up that it’s going to be ok. It’s fixable, mendable, I’m going to learn from it, do things better, make things that are better in the future. But mostly I wish I’d not screwed up so that I wouldn’t have the great sucking hole aching in the centre of my body. How willing are we really to live with that pain over and over again.

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