Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The edge of creativity



I've been thinking a lot about collaboration, largely inspired by seeing the lovely film Indie Kindred in Melbourne late last year.

I suspect I am not a natural born collaborator, largely because I am quite driven and single-minded and a bit of a perfectionist, not to mention neurotic. I have been programmed not to rely on other people for things (read: I’m not very trusting) and tend to expect that people will deliver things as quickly and to as high a standard as me. I also tend to sabotage the process of establishing clear expectations and boundaries with collaborators through my fear of not being liked.

Wow. If you read an advertisement with the descriptor above, you'd be dying to collaborate with me, right?! Hah.

And yet, despite this, there is something within me that yearns for the transcendence that true creative collaboration can bring. For me, this was one of the things that really shone through in Jen's film and it really struck a chord.

My last session with my creative coach Satya was spent exploring this idea. I saw that I am yet to truly collaborate with someone in my creative life, beyond the sharing of operational tasks required to get something done. There is the fact that writing tends to be more of a solitary task. Also also the reality that my online offerings are still in a nascent phase.

What I did find interesting was that, through the course of my conversation with Satya, I could name a number of instances where I had successfully collaborated with others in my working life. And there were a number of common denominators in all of these examples e.g. a common goal and clear agenda; similar levels of education and experience; my designated role as leader/driver, accountable for follow-up and delivery. But also: a safe and respectful space; a shared attitude of commitment, including preparation for the meeting and an openness to other people’s perspectives; and a preparedness to be pushed to our personal edge.

I realised that these last three criteria are non-negotiable for me. I am looking for a group of kindred spirits who are present and engaged; whose self-awareness enables them to set appropriate boundaries and follow through on their commitments; and who feel grounded enough to contribute robust and challenging perspectives.

I don't think these things are possible without a certain level of safety and respect. And I see how these things take a lot of time to build. But I also love the idea that this can enable us to discover the edge of our knowledge, skills and convictions... and can function as a powerful antidote to stagnation and self-doubt.

I don't really know what 2014 holds for me in terms of these kinds of opportunities. Putting my working definition out there into the universe feels like a gentle first step.

Of course, the danger in all this is that it looks so easy for established artists in gorgeous films or in pretty instagram photos of collaborative painting retreats or whatever. Particularly, if you're prone to those kind of assumptions because you're like me and/or human.

I have the feeling that the alchemy will come after a lot of patience, receptivity, small acts of courage to connect with kindreds, trial and error, and persistence.

And that seems to me to be pretty feasible... and ultimately worthwhile.

I am responding here to the thirteenth prompt from #reverb13. You are warmly invited to share your own response below, if you did not have the opportunity to do so in December. Thank you for sharing the journey with me. x


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