I'd arrived a bit early for the lecture I was scheduled to give, and was introducing myself to some of the audience trickling in who'd come to hear me talk about creativity and leaping forward in our work, when a tall, quiet woman glanced over at me and seemed to want to catch my attention, yet seemed shy about it at the same time. I came over and we started chatting, and finally I asked her what it was she did.
"Nothing," she said.
She meant, she explained quickly, that she did nothing "creative." And added that she probably didn't really "belong" at my lecture. She was just . . . visiting.
"But what do you like to do?" I asked.
"Oh, I love to read. I have a book group. I have to read good books, and I have to be with people who know how to talk about books in a way that matters. So I started this group. There are just seven of us. But it's really important to me."
"So you created this group."
"Well . . ."
"And you love to read. And you create discussions about books, original discussions. And reading itself--that involves your imagination interacting with the imagination of an author. You create images in your head. You create your own reading of the book. Yes?"
"Well . . . "
Someone else came up to us. Again my new friend was asked what she did.
"Nothing," she answered, shyly.
My challenge to myself, this weekend, is to think more closely about that word "creative," and to dream up new and still better ways to tear down the walls that have inadvertently grown up and hedged that word for so many people.
Creativity isn't only over on this acre, and not on that one. Writers, if we achieve anything at all, achieve it through the hearts and spirits and minds of those who open their eyes to our work, and who lend their memory and imagination to the page so that it no longer lies flat and full of dull symbols, but rises as if under a wand. Reading is a deeply creative act. Readers are our partners in creativity. Readers are not canvas. They are brush against our brush.
I celebrate the reader. Click clack click clack. I make. She makes happen.
Causes Mylene Dressler Supports
The Women's Media Center