Allowing the Creative Process: An Exercise in Creative Writing

Allowing the Creative Process: An Exercise in Creative Writing

I’ve worked in this business my entire adult life. The creative field for some is the easiest and most rewarding way one could make a living. For others it is the hardest. I fit into the former. This has always been easy for me. I tell stories. That’s all I do. It makes no difference if I use my camera or if I use words. I tell stories. Sometimes the stories are mine, and sometimes they are yours. That part doesn’t really make much difference to me. I just do what I love to do.

The thing about creatives is that not all of us have figured out how to make a living doing what we do. I think this is because not all of us want to accept that being in business, at least being successful in business, means that you must also be professional. Creatives like to sleep in, or stay up late or do only what they want to do and nothing more. That’s fine as long as you aren’t depending on your creative abilities to pay your bills. Mine have been successfully paying my bills for well over 30 years. This is largely due to the fact that early on I learned that you absolutely must be professional in all that you do. Sometimes this means that you paint whatever it is that people want. It may be fun to paint dots on rocks, but if you can’t sell them you won’t make money.

Of course I realize there are two sides to this coin. Art for art’s sake has as much merit as art for sale. Personally, I chose to make art for sale or art that would sell. Many of my artist friends over the years have criticized me for this, acting as if what I do is less worthy than what they do. To them I say that I never wanted to make my living working a mundane job that I hated. I wanted to make a living doing what I wanted to do, making art. Early on I only wanted to photograph certain subjects. When I realized that no one wanted to pay me to photograph those things I quickly adapted my thought process to include photographing the things people were willing to pay me for. This doesn’t mean that from time to time I don’t indulge.

Every so often, when the mood strikes me I allow myself to cut loose and create whatever it is that comes flowing through my mind, even if no one wants to see it or buy it or pay me to make it. Sometimes I find this necessary. Today was one of those times. As I was driving to work I noticed that there were suddenly and abundance of coal trucks on a road I drive every day. I guess this is because there is a new well site going up somewhere close to where I live. After all we are now an oil town.

I got stuck at an intersection, and had to wait for five or six big old 14-wheel dump trucks to pass by. Then as soon as I got back on the road I saw half a dozen tanker trucks. I got to thinking about those trucks and truck drivers. I imagined how diverse these drivers must be. It’s not like there is only one mold for truck drivers any more than there is only one mold for creatives. Some of these drivers may even be creatives. Some might be baseball coaches, others might be farmers. Some could lead blessed lives and some just might lead haunted lives. These were the thoughts that went through my head. Then it hit me, inspiration flowing wildly. Some of these drivers might be haunted by something, something from their pasts, or something that they don’t understand. There it was, a story waiting to be developed, waiting to be told.

By the time I got to work today I had the first paragraph, the opening paragraph memorized. That’s how it works for me. An idea comes from nowhere, I realize that this idea is a potential story and I start telling the story out loud. I drive down the road and I tell myself the story. I try not to let it go too far because I don’t want to forget it. I stick to the opening paragraph. Then, when I get home, I write it down, all of it in one setting. Today it was the story of a haunted truck driver. I could hardly wait to get home from work to write it down. It was knocking at my door all day long, trying to get in. I had to struggle to keep it at bay. As soon as I got home and sat down in front of my computer it exploded all over my screen. I have no idea where these words come from. They just come. Sometimes I am very surprised by what comes out. I write it all down.

I am not doing this for profit. I do not plan to sell these stories. I write them for me, for me and usually for no one else but me. So I do not feel the need to write a first draft, then a second draft, then a third. I do allow the computer to do spell check, but otherwise it is as it comes out. When I am done I read it once and call it finished. I find this to be very rewarding personally.

I have no idea if these stories are any good. I read them to my wife. She always says they are good. What else is she going to say? She won’t tell me that they stink, though there have been a few where she has said she didn’t like the subject. So I’m going out on a limb here. I’m going to share a story with you, the Wheelhouse gang. I will, in all honestly and full disclosure state here, that Michele Rejonis, one of my partners in crime at Wheelhouse will proof this story before she posts it on the web. Other than that, this is exactly as it first appeared on my screen. I think I wrote it, but am willing to consider that somewhere along the line some of these ideas may have come to me from others. That’s what I do. I collect and I create. Isn’t that what we all do.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy my little story. If you do please tell me. If not, well…have a nice day and feel free not to tell me. After all I wrote this for me, not for you. I still hope you enjoy it. We creatives feed off of you and your reactions.

On an related note… If you hate my story please do not hold Wheelhouse Creative responsible. When I am coming up with stories for them, I try my best to tell your story. That is what you pay us for and we are pretty good at it. This one was just for me. As the creative director at Wheelhouse, from time to time, I have to remind our creatives that we are telling your story, not our own. It’s all about balancing professionalism with creativity, and our team does this better than most.

Stay tuned for Part II.

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