I attended a workshop on How to Be Creative last week at the pop-up School of Life in Perth. I had to admit, I went into it with mixed feelings of intrigue and skepticism because I wasn’t sure at all just what the workshop did have to offer. Turns out, quite a bit – it was a great night and I was really glad I had signed up (and dragged myself out on a Wednesday night to attend), and I’ll share a post soon on the key points that really struck a chord with me. But until then, I thought I’d share a little moment toward the end of the workshop where our facilitator, Myke Bartlett, spoke about drawing inspiration from the creators we admire. He first asked us to come up with a list of the creatives we most admired as well as the characteristics we liked best about them and wished to emulate.
My list included:
- Hunter S Thompson
- Ernest Hemingway
- Maria Popova
- F. Scott Fitzgerald
My list of characteristics that I most admired and wished to emulate from these creatives include:
- Being confident in life and in art.
- Being wildly creative and flamboyant
- Completely immersed in their creativity
- Being resilient and disciplined.
We were then asked to pick one of the muses from our list, the one who most closely embodied all these characteristics, and to hold an imaginary conversation with this muse in which we would first ask our muse a question and then imagine what their answer would be.
I picked F. Scott Fitzgerald and the question I asked him was this:
Q: How do you live your life so fully as an artist and yet not be afraid of failure, of both creative failure and the failure that comes with missing out on other potentially lucrative careers or losing your job or being poor or homeless or financially unstable and, worse still, the possibility of looking back years later and realising you might have wasted your life chasing after a dud dream that you were never meant to realise?
I didn’t know how my imaginary Fitzgerald would come up with a satisfactory answer to this but surprisingly it came through quite easily enough and this was it:
A: Don’t think about it at all. Just jump into these waters, immerse yourself fully, and swim for your life! If you do end up living the life of an artistic failure, at least you would have lived it with great courage, flamboyance and style. You would have lived your life on your own terms. You would have lived your life the way you wanted it and you would have gone out of it in the only way you would have wanted to go at all.
So there it is. Only you can live the life you want to live, as fearlessly and passionately as you want it to be. To paraphrase a certain popular abbreviation today, you only have one life and only you can choose just how you want to live it.
And finally, speaking of Fitzgerald always makes me think of the Woody Allen film Midnight in Paris, one of my all-time favourite films. It’s also in this film that Corey Stoll’s Hemingway (How different is he here from his character in House of Cards??) utters one of my favourite quotes:
“No subject is terrible if the story is true, if the prose is clean and honest, and if it affirms courage and grace under pressure.”
It’s not an actual quote by the real Hemingway, but is still a wonderful quote nonetheless.