I sit here rereading one of my favorite books about writing, creativity and life: Nancy Coleman’s, Wide Open Writing: Embrace Your Creative Genius. I read it often because Nancy is my friend, my teacher, a confidante, a wise and kind woman deep of soul and heart. As in so many things we do, I read it anew and find new things in it, or maybe in me. Insights come, fresh ah-has. When we absorb old information in new ways, we grow.
As I reread, I notice (how did I miss this?) the number of times the word “creative” appears in the first few pages: creative energy, creative beings, creative genius, creative expression, creative channels, creative life, creativity community, creative fires, creative time, connection fosters creativity. And I am only on page seven!
“Connection fosters creativity” catches my attention. I stop because the author also mentions how we need to take time for ourselves, often in writerly isolation. Hmm. Connection and isolation. Paradox. A bit confused, I turn back to page five where she says, “writing together worked better than writing alone.”
Page seven again, “It can be helpful to remember…. we are not alone.”
Another mic drop.
Then I know these wise, kind words speak not only to writing, or creativity for that matter. These words, inhaled deeply, echo through our cells, through our lives. Community. Connection. Not alone. Awareness of human social needs now awakened, I sense it wherever I go (as when you buy a new car and suddenly see that exact type everywhere):
- At a recent family gathering, someone tells a joke. I say, “How fun to laugh together.” “Together” as operative word.
- After a hike my friend says, “I like walking with you.” “With” as operative word.
- As we end a visit to grandkids, one of them says, “I like it when you’re here with us.” “Here” and “us” as operative words.
- I say to my husband, “I don’t understand this navigation system.” He says, “we’ll figure it out.” “We” as operative word.
I wrote this much of this essay alone, then felt stuck. Where to go next? Loop back to Nancy’s book? To creativity? Or connection? But I remember, “writing together worked better than writing alone.” So, I consult my ten-year-old fifth-grade granddaughter who says, “I can help. I’m good at writing essays.”
We cuddle up on her bed, not like the face-time meetings of Covid’s two years. We face each other, share smiles and energies. I read her the start of this column and ask, “what to do now? Where to go next? Do I make the case that social media does not feel the same as actual physical presence?”
She says, “Ya. All of those and also team sports. During quarantine my soccer and lacrosse teams didn’t meet. There was no creative cooperative teamwork. Now we’re back on the fields, with players and coaches for real. Oh, and we work on creative school projects in teams because work teams get things done. Sure, you can go after social media–good idea–how we thought we felt connected on zoom, but looking back, we feel more connected now, bigger than in lockdown.”
I ask, “What’s it like to be at your desk in school, when you’re not in teams, when you’re working alone? Do you feel isolated?”
She says, “No. We’re working separately together, together separately. We’re still in a group. Know what I mean?”
Since we just proved that creating together works better than creating alone, I nod and hug her, “Yes, I know what you mean.”