Thinking about creativity has been a major preoccupation all my life. It was not that I thought of myself as being exceedingly creative; in fact quite the opposite, my concern for years was that I was not creative at all. I felt too locked inside. Even though I discovered my love of writing at an early age I didn’t think of it as creative. Being a deeply introverted child, it was the most natural means I had of expressing myself, trying to make sense of buried thoughts and feelings. I wrote poems about vivid dreams, about life, or spiritual beliefs, complicated thoughts and existential questions that demanded the light of day. My inner writing world felt like the real me.
I was a photographic model during the “Swinging Sixties.” The photographers were usually young and hip and the atmosphere in the studio, with the latest records playing in the background, was always fun and upbeat. I was only asked once to do a traditional catwalk, that’s all it took to realize it wasn’t for me. It didn’t match my youthful spirit, and so instead I bucked the system and modeled the latest fashion, not walking but dancing, along the catwalks or train platforms to all the latest Motown music or to live bands. Dancing gave me joy and allowed me to create my own means of self-expression. There are times when something as simple as finding what brings you joy can be turned into creativity, the ability to share a part of who you are with others.
As years went on and I found myself surrounded by famous musicians and songwriters the doubts I had harbored about my own ability to be creative were confirmed. Even though I continued to write a few poems, the drive to create was pretty much put to sleep. Later I found out that comparing ones own sense of self-expression to that of anyone else is a sure fire way to block any kind of inspiration. In its most basic form creativity is a universal innate quality that we all possess in some measure. All it needs is a sense of curiosity and wonder.
My drive to write is to connect to a deeper part of myself and to share that with others. There is a wonderful line in ‘It’s Not Only Rock’n’Roll,’ when jazz drummer, Tony Williams, points out the difference between creativity and talent and that other thing that’s beyond creativity – the spirit that touches people. That is what I aspire to. That introverted child who was content to stand in the shadows while secretly wanting to be seen, is still around but over the years writing has given me the courage to break through my wall of shyness, to stand up and be seen and no longer the need to say, ‘if you read my poems then you’ll see who is the real me.’