Posts Tagged ‘academia’

This is what people tend to ask when they discover that I’ve attended graduate school in English. In response, I tend to hem and haw awkwardly before answering. I don’t do “creative writing” as they are probably thinking about it; I do not write fiction (at least, not intentionally), and I no longer write poetry (at least, not intentionally). Neither do I write much in the way of the genre somewhat confusingly called “creative nonfiction.” I do—in my scholarly work, in my personal practice, and hopefully eventually in my professional life—write. But I don’t think of myself, primarily, as a writer. I think of myself as a researcher and a problem-solver.

And this is where my hesitation comes in when I’m trying to answer that dang question. Real research, real problem-solving, really good scholarly or professional writing is creative, and its process can resemble the confusing, difficult, twisty-turny process of “creative” work.

Constraints and questions inform the beginning of any written work, but the best writers and researchers are those who can follow the insights they discover in their reading and preliminary writing. The most honest, trustworthy writers are those who can follow their research and its small (and large) epiphanies down dark alleyways and confusing trains of thought, trusting that the result, while less tidy or simple than intended, will be bigger, better, and more effective than they can even conceive of yet. If the process is done right—if the writer or the researcher is fully committed to their work—the results will be deeply creative.

What has me thinking of this now is a book I’m attempting to re-read, with some frustration. It seems to have creativity-as-fundamental-committment-to-researched-truth confused with creativity-as-making-your-research-say-what-you-wanted-it-to. More on that tomorrow. (Yes, tomorrow–not in three months, I promise.)

Read Full Post »