Dear Book Lovers,

I know I left you dangling on Tuesday with “However…” But good news–today I continue Moira Allen’s column, The Second Time Around (Or, Creativity vs. Drudgery) from her Writing World newsletter. (I thought this next part was really helpful!!)

However… A synonym for “drudgery” might also be “work.” And there’s another mind-game that is common amongst writers (myself included) — the notion that “creativity” and “work” are opposites. If I have to WORK at coming up with an idea, a story, a rhyme, or whatever, it’s not real creativity, is it? Creativity, we often imagine, is something that flows spontaneously, like water from a stone. (Unfortunately, I suspect there are quite a few “creativity” teachers who foster this notion. I remember one rather vague lady who tried to jolly my class into writing poetry. When I chose to draw a picture of a willow instead, I was still lauded for being “creative” — even when I knew darn well I was simply being lazy.)

On the flip side, I can also remember assisting my father, who was a graphic artist — something I thought of as quite a creative profession (though, to be honest, he didn’t). I don’t know whether he honestly wanted to help me learn the ropes, or whether he just needed a pair of willing hands, but one of the tasks he set me (this was in pre-computer-graphics days) was to rub away all the oozy bits of rubber cement from his paste-ups. Now, this could possibly account for why I did not choose a career in graphic arts (though I suspect my lack of drawing talent might also have contributed) — but it also taught me an unpleasant, but lasting lesson: There is no job so creative that it doesn’t have its rubber-cement-rubbing side.

So now, with my novel, I find myself where the rubber cement hits the road, so to speak. I have a choice. I can put it aside and draw a willow tree, and convince myself that this is all I need to be a “creative genius.” I can tell myself that it’s “good enough” and start shopping it around to agents. I can tell myself that it’s totally brilliant, and if the agents don’t want it, that’s THEIR mistake. Or…

Or, I can put the butt back in the chair, and get to work. Because if “work” and “creativity” are opposites, they are coin-side opposites; one cannot exist without the other. Without creativity, there is no motivation to do the hard work; without the hard work, the creativity will never have a chance to shine. I can think of it as rubbing away rubber cement — or I can think of it as polishing a diamond.

So let me leave this with a salute to all my fellow drudging diamond-polishers out there — I know you are many! And I know that it often feels as if there’s more drudging than diamonds. Butwhat we’re really talking about here is dreams, right? And at the end of the day, nothing shines much brighter than a dream come true– no matter how hard we have to work to get there!

— Moira Allen, Editor, Chief Bottle Washer and Diamond Polisher

(Copyright 2011 by Moira Allen) (