I am currently reading Twyla Tharpe, The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It For Life. I've just finished chapter 3, 'Your creative DNA', in which she talks about finding out what your patterns and inclinations are, the thing that it's right for you to do.
In that chapter there's a questionnaire. I got to number 25 no problem... no surprises... nothing I hadn't thought about before.
Then no 26: When you work, do you love the process or the result?
I wrote yesterday that everything is process; that process is all there is. I know this to be true, but the slant of this question was clever, because my response to what I love turns out to be the product.
It's my love of the product that motivates me. My excitement about what appears; lines on the page, shapes and forms. This is also what can stuff me up, because I want so much from every line, every smudge of paint. Lines and smudges are pregnant, bursting with mystery; ciphers, codes containing the world and everything in it. I can scarcely bear the fullness of them.
In the end, though, while the binary extremes of 'product' v 'process' are useful for stimulating thought or having a conversation, they're not really very helpful.
And then there's input.
I can dive into the history and present of my experience, looking for shapes and forms and codes. For ten years, I swam, picking stones up from the ocean floor, noticing where the light from the surface cast its beam through the gloom, turning over the things I found.
Now I have a vocabulary. I have a language, a means of processing. And it's no longer enough to be swimming down here alone. I'm bored of my own tropes. Well, not bored, but they need energy from beyond me to bring the language to life. They need the breath of interaction.
My language does not exist to be a conduit from the closed container of 'me'. Because there is no closed container. All of my symbols and shapes and forms, the desire of my line to flow, these things are not products of a closed system, an entity that is singular.
They flow into the vessel of me, like tidal waves eddying into a rock pool. The energy of the wave sweeps around the edges of the pool, causing deep maroon fringes of anemone to ripple, tiny green fronds of algae to wave and breathe, and then the wave is gone, sucked back out into the sea.
In the rock pool there are objects, living molluscs, things attached to the smooth stone; for moments, or months, or aeons. And there is every kind of non-attached, or partially-attached thing. Slime and weed and viscous transparent texture; visible, part visible, invisible living forms, packed in fractal layers, interlocking jigsaws of living material and tiny creatures.
Without the inflow of the waves, the pool is nothing. If the tides no longer visited, if the waves ceased their pulsing visitations, their in and out, in and out, the pool would die within a few hours.
So now I wait for the waves.
And they come. Invitations, opportunities, chance openings - invaginations from the flux, momentary involutions creating vessels for new forms, new flows. I am a vessel, but nothing that emerges was made by a me. I am a student, studying the art of holding my coat open.*
(* An old story about three men on a windy cliff top. One of them is near the edge with wads of paper money. The other two are standing further back, downwind from the man on the edge. The man with the money suddenly throws it all up into the air. The wind catches the notes, scattering them in all directions, towards to the two men. One of the men starts running around, grabbing at the air, chasing the notes, trying to catch as many as possible. The other man slow opens his coat....)