“Creativity” as a concept is all the rage.
There are university courses and entire majors dedicated to creativity. Stanford has a scholarly journal that focuses on “innovation.” Companies now have creativity consultants, “innovation managers,” and “chiefs of disruption.”
At Deep we’re into creativity, too. We like writing stories and poems that blow people’s minds. And we’re pretty convinced that creative writers will one day save the world.
What We Wish For
Here’s Deep’s two cents about creativity: The best consultants, the most fearless and joyful practitioners of disruption, cannot be helicoptered in from Harvard Square. The best disruptors are kids. They seem to know innately that creativity becomes truly possible at the precise moment when you admit how little you know.
This is why, as much as we all want to find the formula for making ourselves and our institutions truly creative, we should be careful what we wish for.
- Creative moments are rarely practical. They mess up our outlines. They mock our plans. They’re a poet taking a two-hour writing lunch while the rest of us count widgets.
- Creative moments are not usually pretty. They often look like mistakes. They rattle our categories, offend our good manners, and shock our senses. They’re punk rockers crashing the garden party.
- Creative moments will not be tamed. They don’t come when they’re called, they chew up our homework, and they pee on the couch. They are decidedly ungrammatical.
- You cannot see creative moments coming, and when they do come they show up in our peripheral vision or behind our backs. They jump out from around the corner and scare the bejeezus out of us.
It takes practice and courage to see a truly creative moment as possibility rather than bogeyman.
We should be careful what we wish for.
The Precious Responsibility
The other thing Deep knows about creativity is that it’s a group effort.
Our culture likes cowboys and knights in shining armor, so we have a romanticized image of a loan disruptor descending from the heavens to upend the status quo and make us happy ever after. But astute artists know they’re not pulling ideas out of thin air. They’re conduits, channeling cultural forces and aesthetic storms that have been building for decades or longer. Their art is just the next statement in an ongoing conversation. Hamlet has been remixed and referenced thousands of times, and when Shakespeare wrote it he was remixing a 25-year-old play called the Spanish Tragedy, which, in turn, was a remix of the revenge tragedies of Roman playwright Seneca.
And the audience, too, is part of this community effort. Because when the artist shouts “eureka!” it’s the audience that decides (now or later or never) if the artist has found gold, fools gold, or something else entirely.
Both writer and reader determine the value of a work, and it’s a precious responsibility the reader has. Entire generations have missed or, worse, tried to crush or ghettoize creative works they didn’t get. I wonder what new Pollocks, Basquiats, and Coltranes we don’t know about yet because our ears and eyes aren’t calibrated for their genius.
We should know what we’re wishing for. What if it comes and we miss it? What if it disrupts our world and our response is to put the world back together exactly as it was?
How Creative Writers Will Save the World
At Deep we work with world-class innovators—messy, hilarious, inappropriate, and brilliant child innovators.
Few will turn out to be the next Ralph Ellison, but that’s not the point. The point is that practicing the creative process helps both maker and audience value what they don’t understand and can’t plan for. And this is how creative writers will one day save the world: Mastering the art of creative storytelling helps young creators become not just more expressive, but more resilient, adaptable, empathetic, and humble. And their joyful, vivid, and sometimes unsettling writing helps us open up our ears and eyes to perspectives and experiences we may never have encountered before.
Read the writing of a Deep young author and be prepared to have your mind innovated and your heart disrupted.
Support Savannah’s Chiefs of Disruption
Every year Deep offers free scholarships to 300 young “chiefs of disruption” for our high quality programing—programing the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities has honored as one the 50 best arts programs in the nation. We could not offer these scholarships without our family of supporters, people like you.
We need your help to fund our fall programs. We hope to raise $20,000 by June 15.
A gift from you this spring will ensure we’re able to run our programs once again this fall. Your generosity will buy our kids pens and paper, train our instructors, develop our curriculum, pay the salaries of our hard-working staff members, strengthen partnerships with teachers and principals, help us evaluate and refine the ways we work, and enable us to develop new programs so we can reach more kids.
How can you help? By taking three actions right now. First, consider making a tax-deductible donation. How will your money be spent?
- $228 covers the annual costs of one child in our workshops
- $114 supports that child for one semester
- $19 pays for one month of workshop time for that child
- $6,500 underwrites a full year of workshops at one school, serving up to 28 children.
Second, become a Deep Patron by making your gift recurring on a monthly or annual basis. Patrons provide Deep with dependable future revenue, which affords us greater flexibility and resilience in our planning and increased responsiveness in challenging economic times.
Third, tell your friends, family members, colleagues, and co-workers about Deep. Share our campaign widely through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and all your social media accounts. Encourage your community to support Deep and become patrons, as well.
Please make your tax-deductible donation now. Help support next the creative disruptors right in your own back yard.
PS. If you gave last year, please consider doubling your donation this year, and ensure that all of Savannah’s kids get the love, instruction, and creative fun that will help them thrive.