Apr 172011

I have a guest post that’s a bit different today. I’m curious about creativity – how does it happen? I remember reading a study somewhere that debunked the stereotype on the lonely artist. Rather than toiling away in a solitary garret, the most productive ones were generally rushing around engaging in multiple projects and interacting with lots of people. So I was interested to hear about a collaborative project Stewart Tunnicliff’s been  working on. Without more ado, here’s Stew to tell us about it.

Utterances at The Closest East to the Heart

LE Writers left to right: Ralf Lowland, Svetlana Lavochkina, Diana Feuerbach, Stewart Tunnicliff (photo: Maeshelle West-Davies)

A quote by James Earl Jones has resonated with me for years:

“One of the hardest things in life is having words in your heart that you can’t utter.”

At secondary school I always wanted to be a writer, but could not find my voice. It took me at least another half a dozen years to actually find one. But then I misplaced it like an odd sock down the back of a sofa.

In March this year all that changed with the second public reading of my poetry at the “Leipzig Liest” event of the Leipzig book trade fair. The Buchmesse and Leipzig have increased their world fame with mentions in the New York Times and the Guardian newspapers. On the coat tails of this the Leipzig Leist organisation ran small reading events all over the city. The one I was part of was at Noch besser leben.

It all came together through the club I founded called LE Writers, where four disparate word-smiths met and came up with the idea of an all English reading for the Buchmesse – the first of its kind. This collaboration also included working with three musical artists, a multi talented musician and two opera singers.

We have coined a phrase as best to describe these kind of readings: a literary concert as it is a fusion of text and music that is more performance based than straight forward readings. They are also recorded to produce “audio books”

But let us go back to this notion of “voice” for a minute. I solemnly believe that this hodge podge group of ink squiqqlers and keyboard quiverers has two very distinct qualities.

Firstly there is the invigorating support you receive from like minds who are struggling with their own notion of ”voice” and regular expression. Also a single voice among many is not drowned or lost in the mass in this case but becomes a chorus of multi faceted tonal nuances.

The greatest thing for me is to have found a large part of my Personal Learning Network, where my voice can be heard by sympathetic ears. Likewise during the editing process of fellow writers I can see how adamant I am to retain my own unique voice and defend it from the wielded red pen.

As a disclaimer for this speaking ‘merican blog we have so far had no American voices in our writers’ circle, so cannot yet write about the American voice in this blog entry. This will change for “the Embassy of love” on the 20th May at our next performance, whereby we have two American writers contributing.

I will be intrigued to see how they add to the group voice and am also interested in all bloggers, writers out there and how you found or train your voice.

You can see  an extract from one of Stew’s performance here and I’m hoping he’ll pop back sometime later to tell us how things are going with the new ‘merican collaborators.

 Posted by at 4:52 pm

  3 Responses to “Creative voices”

  1. Hi, i am reminded of something Stephen King said in his book On Writing. For him, and maybe it’s true, we need to write first with the “door closed”.
    Then we write it again with the “door open” but we don’t let too many people in.
    I think in the end, although inspiration comes from interaction the creation can be destroyed if we listen to too many other voices except our own and a trusted one or two.
    Is this relevant to your post, i hope.
    I also remember meeting a juggler who had been totally isolated from others and suddenly appeared amongst us with a technique far in excess of our own, we who had been training alongside each others for years.
    And i remember another highly creative man who spent a week in Berlin watching a life time of film archive documenting the achievements of jugglers from the beginning of (recorded) time.
    He left saying “now i know what NOT to do”.

  2. The collective dilution of creativity although a common theory has merit.

    However this ignores all the great schools of artists that have collaborated together in many fields, especially painting.

    I believe the voice you mention is more concerned with opinion, as opposed to inspiration. We have only to go so far as to recall the tension between the greats J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S.Lewis to verify this.

    I firmly believe collaboration is beneficial, especially for the lapsed or “sleeping” artist.

    And as the juggler is expressing in your anecdote, as long as you have your own convictions and stick to them then there is no fear of doing it wrong through listening to others.

    “Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.” – Ryunosuke Satoro

  3. Thanks so much for this response, Chris. I think it’s very relevant to the post – and to things I wonder about re creativity. Thank you!
    I think we can get stuck in ruts if we keep the doors closed. But opening them too wide can slow things down to a stall as well.
    Loved your juggler stories too.

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