I didn’t get much response to my blog about Connecting the Dots, but that’s okay; I managed to get me thinking to the point that I’ve gone 180 and counter-pointed myself. (It’s exhausting being inside my head sometimes). In that blog, I suggested that America is, indeed, losing it’s creative spark, and that this is connected with the sad rumor that our Christian light has dimmed, or is hidden under the proverbial bushel. I don’t exactly disagree with myself, mind you, but I have noticed another angle. I wrote from this new perspective in a column for Power Source magazine that will be coming out in the September issue. This article does not address the religious aspect, only the creative one, but I thought it was worth sharing with you. I love hearing your responses. Thanks for conversing.
(From the column “UNCOMMON SENSE: God’s Gift of Creativity” )
I’ve heard that creativity is on the decline in this country. Some say we have been lulled into a sleepy slumber, sold out to a commercialized, force fed, cookie cutter mentality, motivated and perpetuated by gross consumerism. I hear generalized statements about people. “People don’t want to think too hard.” “People are basically shallow, not deep or poetic.” “People are gullible to whatever the market sells them.” No, no, no, no, no. I say, “People have hearts, people need art.”
Art has a new cyberspace playground these days. It’s exciting. Remember Captain Kirk’s handle: Space, the final frontier? Well, it’s not. For the visionary, there are worlds beyond the worlds beyond this one, and they’re all God’s. God has a way of turning sure finality into promising eternity. These are exciting times for innovative minds. If we’ve ever been in an age when everything is “new every morning,” as the writer of Lamentations so eloquently penned, it is now. Can you see God’s blessing in these changing times?
Of course, for the organic artist, the potter molding the clay, the painter brushing the canvas, or the songwriter crafting a melody, some things never change. The qualities that make a song great, for example, are timeless, whether that song is rendered digitally or on an old phonograph with a little white dog with a black eye watching it spin.
From Bach to the Kings of Leon, what keeps a melody interesting is movement, and contour, the dynamics of high and lows, and the variation of intervals and note values. From Handel to Gaither, a great lyric communicates the universal heart of humanity, is honest, and is constructed carefully to make every word count.
These days, everything is faster, easier, allegedly time saving, that is, until your battery dies and you can’t find your charger. But sometimes I think we miss the point of all this efficiency. Creating more time means you can create more. It means you can sit still long enough to get that book written, or get that second verse exactly right.
I use to hate writing second verses. By then, the lightning bolt impulse had waned, and it actually became work to make sure the payoff was exactly right. By then, there was a temptation, not to make every word count, but to make every word functional and hope no one was listening closely enough to know that it could be better. Guess what? They are always listening.
The fun part of God’s gift of creativity is the inspiration, the paying attention, the cupping of the hands while the Holy Spirit pours out the epiphany. The not so fun part is the waiting, and the moment when God seems to be whispering, “I don’t know, what do you think?” Co-writing with God, which is the only way to go, is a fearful and wonderful process. With God, every word counts. He’s a great lyricist. Just think of the power of those four little words, “Let there be light.” Even if you didn’t know the Judeo-Christian story behind that phrase, you would be compelled to wonder who has the authority to make such a command, why, and what was there before light? Sometimes we can say more with fewer words. For the lyricist, fewer words means more work. I’ve spent entire afternoons on long walks or biking just to get away and find the one right word or image for a line or a chorus. If you finish a song and your lyric sheet looks like a short story, you may have been too wordy. Ah but it’s so easy to ramble on…
No doubt life is fast paced, and schedules monitored to the millisecond. I say if this crazy world’s gone manic, let’s turn all that hyperactivity into a creative frenzy.