The Many Faces of Creativity

3:18 AM Shonell Bacon 0 Comments

Last week, I was in woest me mode to the Nth degree. I was so sure my creativity was dead and then several people - to include professors, fellows, friends, and family - reassured me that it wasn't dead. In fact, not only was my literary creativity being nurtured to resurrect later, but also my academic creativity was in full swing.

I never looked at what I'm doing now, that is being a doctoral student, as something creative because creativity for me was storytelling.

Throughout my woest me mode, I talked to God a lot. I kept reassuring him that my whining would cease, that I was going to pull out of this, that I knew this was just a bump in the road and I could always get up from the fall, dust myself off, and keep on, keeping on.

I could hear him laugh; he already knew this and more. He wanted me to move from thinking about getting better to actually doing better. I don't think it was a coincidence that I played Mary Mary's song "Get Up" nearly on repeat for several days on end.

I don't think it was a coincidence that one day, while still in woest me mode, I headed to American Heritage Dictionary online and looked up the definition for creative/creativity; I found the following definitions:
  • Having the ability or power to create
  • Productive; creating
  • Characterized by originality and expressiveness; imaginative
Seeing these definitions, I knew for a fact that I had been creative over the last five weeks. It takes creativity to read theories and to try to integrate them into contemporary times. It takes an imagination to state what you believe the nature of technical communication will be in ten years. It takes originality to pick paper topics that haven't been done ad nauseam. It takes expressiveness to open one's mouth in the classroom and hope you sound almost intelligent. It takes major productivity to work through four classes in a semester while dealing with new surroundings, major life changes, and other work.

I smile because my creativity isn't dead; it simply manifested itself in my current endeavors.

And this weekend, while hanging out with a professor friend from back home, I had the highest pleasure of talking about literature with her and several other writers and students who attended the Texas Association of Creative Writing Teachers (TACWT) Conference this weekend. My heart warmed and I nearly swooned at being able to talk about literature. And I found my heart equally warmed at talking about technology and composition and rhetoric and communication. It was almost a sense of euphoria at entertaining both creative outlets at once.

Though I'm still in major go-go-go mode with readings and feeling like I'm floundering, everything around me is saying, "You're doing OK. You really are."

And to prove to me that's so, I actually dreamed (the first in nearly two months) of one of my screenplay ideas last night and reveled for awhile in scene development.

And mind went straight to thoughts of intertextuality, rhetoric, and paper ideas.

Yeah, my creativity is still there.

It's probably working more than it ever has.


Verse of the Week

3:09 AM Shonell Bacon 0 Comments

"If you believe, you will receive…" (Matthew 21:22, NIV)

It's short and to the point, but it's effective.

What's important to remember about this verse is what's not stated, what's hidden within that comma between believe and you.

I liken this verse to another one of my faves that is also short and sweet:

" without works is dead." (James 2:20, NKJ)

You saying, "I believe" is not all that's involved in truly believing. When you believe, your mindset changes. If you truly believe that you'll get that job or be accepted to that university or will be published, then that belief infiltrates your mind, your thoughts, and your actions.

You begin to not only believe, but to think the belief is! You'll start putting forth the action that will guide you to the fruition of your belief.

So in the end, if you believe -- and make your mind and actions coincide with that belief -- you will, in fact, RECEIVE!


Can My Creativity Be Resurrected?

10:44 AM Shonell Bacon 0 Comments

I'm a bit bitter these days.
A little salty.
A smidgen of angry.
Because Creativity is dead.

Well, at least for me.


One word: school.

This doctoral program is a full-time job. It can take upwards of 40 hours a week (more once you start researching for papers and projects beyond the required "in class" work) to do all the reading and preparing to be brilliant in the classroom. And it's not a 9 to 5 job where you do work that doesn't tax your mind, therefore, leaving you feeling energetic and refreshed and ready to conquer the world creatively.

Oftentimes, in fact, I'm mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually exhausted and want nothing to do but some mindless activity or sleep (which is a rarity in itself).

This is not me complaining, mind you. I accept what is necessary to do. As I've stated numerous times throughout this blog, it was my destiny to be here, and because of my pact with God, I'm in it to win it.

That being said, it doesn't mean I won't get tired or irritated with it all sometimes. I'm human. It's what I do.

And having said this, I actually love being here - in Lubbock and in the program. I missed being an academic. I adore books and knowledge and developing new ways to see things. All of that pumps me up in ways I can't fully explain.

But I tell you one place where I'm hurting.

My creativity.

Writing is my bloodline. I know God put me here [on Earth] to write, to share my words, to move and entertain and inspire others. Have known it since I was about 8 - made moves to do something about it since I was ten and started writing scripts for The Guiding Light in a 25-cent green leather diary my mom bought me at a flea market.

Since I've been in Lubbock, however, no creativity has come forth. In fact, I'm not sure how to actually get my mind to be creative to actually write.

I'm still editing others' works, but that is a job to me now, and so I'm able to move from one job (student) to another (editor). Moving to writer - which I have yet to see as a job because it is my passion - is difficult.

Just before I came to Lubbock, I finished the outline for a screenplay that is quite different from anything I've written. Was excited, thinking I'd have time to write while here, but I have yet to find the time or the creative inclination TO write.

And it FEELS like the time to do so. Been getting some reads of scripts I've already written, and a part of me knows that if I can get this one written, someone will take notice.

I know what some of you might be thinking, and no, this isn't fear keeping me from writing -- except for the fear of taking away time from school, which can directly hurt me in the classroom if I come in unprepared.

For the last month, I hadn't thought much about any of these...FEELINGS...because I'd been in the mad rush to read, respond, and stay on pace.

And then yesterday came.

Yesterday, I was tired. Beyond tired. Slept two-and-a-half hours Friday night. Stayed up late Saturday, going to library for hours then coming home and reading. My goal Sunday was to take time to pray and meditate in the morning and be a slave to reading for the rest of the day.

But I got up and felt off. Felt sad. Felt disoriented. Felt out of touch with me. And that scared me a bit.

I prayed and talked with God, and that allowed some of my frustration, my irritation of losing a part of myself - my creative part - to come to the surface.

And then a fellow chica fellow (love writing that - lol) posted a link to Randy Pausch's "Last Lecture: Achieving Your Childhood Dreams" from YouTube, and I took the time (plus one hour) to watch it.

And it moved me. Not just because Pausch was a brilliant man and professor who wanted to live life to the fullest. But because Pausch DID live life to the fullest, connecting with all of his passions and his desire to help others and his love for his family before he was taken too soon by pancreatic cancer.

I watched it, and I cried.

I finished watching it, and I cried more.

I walked around my apartment, head killing me, snot running, as I sobbed (wailed actually), and at the time, I wasn't sure what exactly I was wailing about. I just knew I felt distraught and empty, and tired and confused, and wanting and distracted, and (enter any adjective because it would fit, assuredly).

I grabbed a blanket, fell onto the sofa, and continued to cry as random thoughts came to me. I missed my mom. I missed my siblings. I missed talking to my girlfriends every day because I had the time to do so. I missed my boyfriend. I missed watching TV and actually JUST. WATCHING. TV with no expectation of having to do it quickly because I had 50-11 other things to do. I missed thinking about my life in the future (because lately, it's just been about WHAT'S DUE TOMORROW. WHAT'S DUE NEXT DAY. WHAT'S DUE DAY AFTER NEXT...not months from now thoughts).

And just as important as all those "misses," I missed creativity. I missed daydreaming about characters and stories. I missed falling asleep and having a great idea come to me and waking up to jot it down. I missed talking to friends and colleagues about short stories, novels, screenplays, poetry. I missed placing fingers upon keys and bringing words to life.

I was...and am missing a huge part of what makes me who I am.

And I knew that within all my "misses," this was the one miss which I had taken NO part in within the last six weeks. I hadn't opened my script's outline and reread it. I didn't attempt to write a page. I didn't talk long about writing (unless it had to do with clients' works). Every time I allowed myself these flights of fancy, I admonished myself, saying, "You don't have time for THAT. Get to the real work."

But you know what? Writing is my real work. It's my REAL me. Without it, Shon is a very dull, very sad little girl.

And so I guess the point of this long winded entry is to say that my creativity is dead, and I miss it.

And if I'm going to be productive - in whatever fashion that productivity comes - I will have to resurrect my creativity and embed it into my life because a Shon without Creativity, much like faith without works, is dead.


Verse of the Week

10:42 AM Shonell Bacon 0 Comments

"And whosever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple." Luke 14:27 (KJV)

The Message version of the Bible offers this translation:

"One day when large groups of people were walking along with him, Jesus turned and told them, "Anyone who comes to me but refuses to let go of father, mother, spouse, children, brothers, sisters—yes, even one's own self!—can't be my disciple. Anyone who won't shoulder his own cross and follow behind me can't be my disciple."

I read this verse, and it strikes me, hard, right in the middle of my chest. It's one of the moments in a life in which there is a major decision to make, and it's a decision that will change your life completely. It is a directive that's not for the faint of heart. It's a directive, that if taken, means you know that there is something greater than everyone in your life, that there is something even far more greater than you, and because of this knowledge, you are ready to do the following two things:

1- Follow the Lord because he is greater.
2- Carry your burdens

Now, does this mean you must denounce your family? Not be there in times of pain or trouble? Go off in the forest and forget the world altogether?

No, but it does mean that you have to be open to God and his voice and to what he wants to do with you through his son, Jesus Christ. It does mean that God is the center of your world.

What it also means, which I believe is so awesome and which is not directly stated in the verse, when we follow the Lord with our heart and soul, he is there to help lift our burdens because we believe him capable of doing so.

What a mighty, mighty God we serve.


Being Born Again: Birthday Remix

2:46 PM Shonell Bacon 0 Comments

A year ago today, I couldn't see anything positive in my life.

I was another year older, I was in a job that would end within a year's time, my writing (it seemed) was still going nowhere, I was ready to branch off on my own again but didn't have the means to do it, I was thinking about pursuing my Ph.D. (and had every notion TO apply); but was worried about if I would get in, and a host of other negative issues.

To top the negative pile off, Hurricane Ike decided to pop in around 1 a.m. on September 13th, blackening our home and leaving us without electricity for several days.

To say I was miserable would be an understatement.

It was hard for me then to realize that everything would come to pass and that I would be OK.

A year later, I am OK. I'm actually more than OK. I'm BLESSED beyond measure.

Through God's grace and his strength permeating through me, I kept moving - one foot in front of the other - until I walked out of that hurricane, I walked out of my job, I walked out of my publishing fears, I walked out of my relationship woes, I walked out of everything that tried to fill me with dread and disarm me, and kept moving to the next phase of my life.

I truly feel like I'm a new being - as if God's granted me a new birth. It's hard for me to look back over the last year of my life.

Not because I'm sad or it hurts me, however.

It's because I hardly remember the year. It's all a fantastical blur of forward movement, accomplishments, obstacles, and achievement to reach the place I'm in now. A place in which I'm feeling myself as a SELF. I see me for me and not me connected to others who might influence what I like and don't like.

What does that mean?

Well, the art of buying things for my home is an example. I don't have to ask others what they like; there's no need for a discussion. I know what I like, and I buy it.

The food I buy is different; I hardly eat meat anymore, choosing more healthier options because - quite frankly - it's cheaper to buy healthy when it's just one person and not an entire household.

I pray more because I have the space to fully be me as a praying person.

I emote more because I don't have to worry about anyone's thoughts or worries about me while doing so.

I feel more because I'm not cloaked in others' misery or sadness, which kept my feelings bound inside, twirling and festering.

I am more because where I am now is not where I was before and because it's where God wants me to be.

Don't think any birthday gift could be better than that.


The Wonder of His Safety and Love

5:39 PM Shonell Bacon 0 Comments

Life these days is hectic, fast-paced, blurred, awesome, worrisome...and many, many more adjectives.

Since school started on August 27th, I have been chained to words, a plethora of words on philosophy, technology, writing, and all these words swirl in my mind in a harried pace, and most of the time, I am unable to capture the significant points of these words to make meaning.

It is a daunting task.

At least three times I told myself I wasn't cut out for this, and one time last week, I actually thought about bolting from a classroom as my eyes blurred with pending tears, my heart raced, and my mind whispered, "You're not smart enough to be here."

And for the first time since I've moved, I had the ache of loneliness. That day, the day I almost ran from class, packed my bags, and hightailed it out of Lubbock, I got home and realized there were no siblings to crack a joke to make me laugh. There was no hug to chase a frown away. There was no "Come on now. You got this. We been calling you The Brain for HOW long?"

There was nothing but utter silence and my realization of that silence.

And I cried. I will admit my fellow fellows made me feel better as they convinced me that I was not the first nor would I be the last to think I was a fraud in this Ph.D. game. They also made sure to follow that up with, And you are not a fraud.

But there's something about the hug of a brother who gives it to me because I pout and say, "Me needs hugs." There's something about a punch in the arm from a sister which means, "I love you, and you'll be OK." There's something about a kiss from Mom on my forehead, right along the hairline.

I sat in the chair in the living room and collected these memories of reassurances as I cried.

As I sat there, my boyfriend texted me, "R U OK?" Normally, I would reply, "Yep. You?" This time, I wrote, "Not really." And he called with the quickness and stepped to the plate like a good man should. One of the sweetest things he said was, "I know the God in you, and I know you can do this because He has you there." He provided me with the words, hugs, and kisses that I couldn't get in the real.

After I talked to him, I sat in the silence and look at the coffee table where the bible rested. It had been a few days since I cracked it open.

And I remembered I hadn't been doing my daily reading of Psalm 91. I started reading it a few weeks ago and promised myself I would keep it nearby. Whenever you feel your footing is loosening, whenever you feel unsure, not safe, bare, and exposed; it will immediately cover you.

So, I picked up my bible and read it aloud and personalized it to fit me. I have never been able to read it, to seriously read it, all the way through without crying. This time was no exception.

To know God will cover me, morning to night - night to morning, will protect me from my enemies, will give me the tools to fight foes, will dispatch angels to take charge over me, will deliver me and love me and show me his salvation... Whew. I don't know how I can know all those things and not feel already victorious. Not already see Dr. Shonell Bacon written on papers. It's already mine. I just have to make it through the race and get it.

But I do know how I can miss the big picture.

I'm human. We get scared. We get lonely. We get worrisome. We get hard. We get unmoving. We get a lot of things that keep us from reaching our final destinations.

But God bought my ticket here, and I have to move beyond my human ways to get the job done. It's not just about me. God got me here. He told me to apply to this one school. He told me he would supply for my needs.

So far, he's done that PLUS.

Who am I to renege on our pact?


Verse of the Week

5:28 PM Shonell Bacon 0 Comments

"So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most." (Hebrews 4:16, NLT)

Yep. Life is hard. Damn hard. And the more you get on God's side, the harder it will be in some ways. Despite that, it's important that we look up and speak out to him, even if we're as down as we can go. The woman with the issue of blood didn't care what anyone thought of her as she reached out to the Lord and neither should we. If we need grace, if we need help, if we need a hug, a word of assurance, a love that surpasses all understanding, God can give it to us.

As long as we come boldly.