The creative tensions
Embracing the paradoxical forces of art work
Last Friday I gave a talk called “The Creative Tensions” at CD Baby’s DIY Musician Conference here in Austin, TX. It was only my second in-person talk since the pandemic. Great audience. I had a lot of fun.
Sometimes when I have an idea that I think could be a book and the right client comes along, I’ll pitch it to them. If they say yes, it gives me a deadline to produce something. (Steal Like an Artist started this way, as did Keep Going.)
The basic idea of the talk is that creative work has a series of tensions which are created by opposing forces. These tensions are not to be avoided or alleviated, but embraced as energy sources and sites of creative possibility.
Heraclitus talked about the lyre (think of a small harp) and bow and arrow. I used the metaphor of a guitar: If a guitar string is wound too slack, it buzzes and makes no note. If it’s wound too tight, it’ll snap. Either way, no music. There is a proper tension that makes the string sing.
And so it is with tension in creative work: we can’t really avoid it, we can only find the proper tension.
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