The most recent prompt from the DIY MFA book I’m reading, asks us to write about the tools we use to help feed our creativity. As usual, I took the wording quite literally, which helped me learn something about myself in the process.
First of all, I learned that apparently, my creativity, my muse if you will, is a metaphorical house cat, and it’s an asshole.
Warm, fuzzy ideas come a-purring, rubbing against my legs, all up in whatever I’m doing… when I’m doing something else that is. But when I want it, when I have time to sit down and give it attention, no matter how much expensive food I put out, it’s asleep on a high shelf, or off in a corner licking its balls.
I’ve come to grips with the fact that even though a house cat’s very existence depends on you, you never actually “own” your cat. You “live with” your cat, much like you “live with” the effects of a chronic disease. You think you’re in charge, but you adapt your life to accommodate this fickle, antisocial rat-bastard. You feed it, you clean up after it, you care for it, and you do its bidding. And let’s be clear, I’m not talking about a cat, I’m totally talking about creativity.
Of course cat as creativity is not an original idea. Ray Bradbury said something similar;
“That’s the great secret of creativity. You treat ideas like cats: you make them follow you.”
No offense Mr. Bradbury, but no one makes a cat, or an idea for that matter, follow them. If a cat follows you, it is most certainly the cat’s idea. If you want something to follow you around, get a dog. But then I don’t suppose you get to choose what your creative metaphor manifests itself as do you?
Far be it from me to doubt Ray Bradbury’s methods. His preference was to train his muse to follow him and he had a prolific writing career because of it. My preference, when it comes to luring creativity, is to make myself available, to be open to possibilities, put out a bowl of milk, and busy myself with other things, so that when the metaphorical cat (my muse) comes to me, it’s willingly, albeit in its own sweet time.