Creator and Creation

Posted by on May 9, 2013 in Creativity, Writing | 3 comments

Creator and Creation

A really cool animated video turned up on Facebook the other day.  Take a look.

When I watch this video, I’m intrigued by the battle. First, there’s the fascinating juxtaposition of 3D vs. 2D. Then there’s the amount of work that had to go into the animation, and the imagination to have thought of it in the first place. The thing that intrigues me the most, however, is the way this video illustrates the creative process.

I remember being in high school and reading, for the first time, an author’s comments about how his characters had minds of their own. I was in about 11th grade, so I was about 16; I had been inhaling books all my life and had only in the previous year or so really started trying to write much. My reaction to this author (I want to say it was John Dos Passos, but Google is not helping me here) was ferocious and immediate. “What a load of crap!!” I thought. “You’re the author! You’re in charge! What kind of nut thinks his characters have minds of their own?!”

You can imagine my shock many years later, when I was working on the first big writing project I’d tackled in years, and found myself having an argument with a character about where he was from. “Chicago,” he said.

“Never been there,” I said, “so I can’t write it. Can’t you be from someplace I’ve been to? Or someplace I can make up?”

“Sorry,” he replied. “I’m from Chicago.”

“Well, okay,” I finally said, “but if you have to be from Chicago, you’re gonna be a teacher, because I know how to write that.”

I figured I’d finally crossed over into the Land of Looney, so I was relieved when I talked to some other writer friends and found out that I wasn’t alone. I thought of that author interview and issued a long-overdue mental apology. Then I headed to the library and took out every book they had on Chicago. I even bought a map.

The Maker vs. Marker video reminds me so much of that incident, and the other creative exchanges that have followed (only most aren’t quite so violent!). Characters know who they are even when I haven’t figured it out yet, so I listen when they assert themselves. Collage goes according to plan…except when it doesn’t (and that in itself is a great lesson in dealing with perfectionism). Is it possible that, on some level, all art is at odds with its creator? Or it is more that both need to learn how to get along with each other, to work together so that both can exist in peace?

I know there are plenty of other stories of creative projects taking on a life of their own, and of artists coming to terms with their creations, so please share yours in the comments!

Image courtesy Flickr user toffehoff


  1. That is too funny – I remember having a similar reaction, thinking the writer was a loony! But now I know different – our creations come through us as well as from us, and sometimes the creation knows better than the creator. It’s a beautiful dance of learning to trust, to accept, to allow what wants to be created, to allow ourselves to create beyond our self-imposed limits, and to have fun with it without getting too attached to ‘I gotta do it MY way’! xx
    Donna recently posted..OnTheBeach: What is Your Big Dream?My Profile

  2. I have this experience of the creation having a mind of its own more when I make art. What I set out to make rarely is what wants to come through. Sometimes I am guided by little imperfections in the paper. So many influences on what ultimately ends up on paper! Enjoyed the little movie!
    Crystal recently posted..Blessed Mother’s Day! Interview with SarahKate ButterworthMy Profile

    • Amazing how works of art seem to assert themselves, isn’t it? I love the idea of the imperfections dictating some of what comes out. Maybe they’re not so imperfect at all! :)

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