This second to last chapter of Dr. Paris’s book is devoted to the fourth and final stage of the creative process; what she refers to as Taking The Plunge. At this stage creative types feel as ready as they’ll ever be to immerse in a creative project. I think the quote from Van Gogh that opens this chapter sums up the situation:
I am seeking, I am striving, I am in it with all my heart.
In this stage, creative types feel that they have prepared enough and have no preparation at all. We are filled with hope, yet terrified.
This immersive state might last a few minutes, a few days, or several weeks. Like any intimate relationship, our relationship with our art form ebbs and flows. Some days we experience an immediate connection with the art and jump right into the immersive experience. On other days it is like pulling teeth as immersion comes in bursts and fits.
And like those relationships with people, our art can make us feel confident or insecure. The relationship we have with a particular piece of work can affect the quality of our immersive experience. I’m sure you’ve experienced that lack of connection with a piece; the one that just isn’t coming together, the one you have to walk away from for a period of time, or maybe you trash it outright.
Our ideal immersive state is one of bliss, where we feel everything coming together and are fully engaged with our art. More often, however, we experience a “process of destruction-creation” where we must give up notions of control and independence in order to become intimate with the artwork. Interestingly children do not go through this process. They immerse in creativity and play more easily than adults because they haven’t experienced rejection and disappointment and have less need to control.
Therefore we must remind ourselves to approach immersion with a sense of play.
Dr. Paris ends this chapter with a brief mention of a special type of immersive state she refers to as “crafting.” Crafting is defined here as the rehearsals, rewrites, and revisions. In other words, the problem-solving process or refining of the creation. During this state we may experience our work as brilliant one moment and then completely worthless in the next moment.
I think this is the stage where I try to remind myself not to judge the piece too harshly. I have to remember to not call it ‘ugly’ or to say “I don’t like the way this is going.”
Dr. Paris offers one important guide at the end of this short chapter: PLAY! To play in the moment and to play with your chosen medium.
I invite you to join me as I read Standing at Water’s Edge. You can purchase the book through Amazon, Dr. Paris’s web site, or perhaps find it at your local library or bookstore. My goal is to post every 7-10 days a summary of the chapter and share any a-ha moments that occurred. I welcome your comments on this and successive posts. Share your a-ha moments and experiences while reading the book. You can join in at any time. If you have a blog and are also writing about your experiences with this book, please include a link to your blog in your comment. I’ll include your blogs at the end of my posts.
Standing at Water’s Edge is divided into three parts with 10 chapters as follows:
Part II: Relationships
Chapter 3: The Need for Others
Chapter 4: Finding Strength in Mirrors
Chapter 5: Finding Inspiration in Heroes
Chapter 6: Finding Comfort in Twins
Chapter 7: Connecting with the Audience and Meeting Deadlines
Part III: Stages of the Creative Process
Chapter 8: Approaching Immersion
Chapter 9: Diving In
Chapter 10: Coping with Disengagement and Reentry