Yesterday, I was reading Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creativeby Austin Kleon. (Admittedly, I totally judged the book by its cover and the title intrigued me, so I had to read it.) In short, it tells how everything has been done, and the artist must be honest about stealing for his or her craft.
I found that comforting, because I’m not creative. Not at all.
If I had a choice, I would wear the same jeans and the same long-sleeved white t-shirt every day. (Well, I do have a choice, but even at 30 I feel societal pressure to change out of the Courtney uniform every now and again. Pathetic?)
So, I’m not creative, and I’m running two content-driven websites that thrive on regular posts of new and original ideas.
Let’s skip to a story about my baby, because she’s pure awesomeness, and because Kleon explains this very phenomenon in his book…
Yesterday, I heard my daughter say “mama” at six months old. I had witnesses too! It really happened, and she repeated it three times.
But what my onlookers didn’t know was that we had been working on this for weeks. I sit her on the bed, get in her face and say “mama” over and over again.
Obsessive? Maybe. But I dare you to find me a mom who doesn’t do this with her baby.
When we practice, she really zeroes in on my mouth and what I’m saying. She would open and close her mouth, sometimes blow a raspberry, and play around with sounds. The closest I came before our big moment was “ba ba ba” and “pa pa pa.” (Which should not under any circumstance be mistaken for saying a variation of Dad’s name first. Got it?)
Then, she did it. She said mama. She tried hard to replicate what I was doing, and she eventually succeeded. And she’ll imitate my words and actions again and again.
Until one day, she will develop her own little personality. She will no longer need me for reference.
She’ll combine her words her way. She’ll dance around the house her way. She’ll want her stuffed animals to sit on her bed her way. She’ll dress herself her way. (Her older brother is doing this now, and the mismatched socks and hockey jersey over everything are quite charming, in my opinion.)
Back to Courtney, as a not creative writer…
My site is in its infancy, and my role as editor of Attachment Parenting International’s blog is new, too. For now, I have to imitate those who have grown up before me.
Don’t get me wrong – I don’t plagiarize. I don’t copy. That’s illegal. Instead, I have my feelers out for what I like, and when I decide to do something similar, I’ll always add my own ideas, or combine ideas from different sources to make my own new creation.
Kleon says you imitate until you find your own voice. It’s all part of growing up into a mature child. Or writer. Or whatever it is that you’re into these days.