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April 27, 1999
a year ago

Conservation of Creativity

It's kinda a different take on one of Covey's 'Rules', but... I think it's one of the things that has baffled me for a long, long time. It's not even all that intuitive at some gut level for a lot of people, either. There is no conservation of creativity.

I have a couple of friends that like to point out how smart or creative someone else is in order to 'prove' that they are stupid or slow. It's a comparison thing, I think, and I've always kinda felt that it was bogus but never really had the concrete knowledge or thought as to why it was bogus. I just figured out, however, that it's just as invalid and wrong as someone else trying to prove how smart they are by making someone else look stupid.

Both predicate the conservation of 'smarts' or creativity. That if someone has it, someone else must have less. And that's just so bogus it makes me want to jump up and down.

I mean... most of my writing life was done with other people. It was done because someone else fired off my imagination with an idea of theirs and then I added my capabilities to it all and the whole thing turned out better than either of us could have done it alone. There's countless examples of the same kind of thing at work, where a number of people have added ideas and made something better than they could have done alone. Creativity really can always increase in any kind of creation. Any and every good roleplaying game is a gathering of creativity to make something that's fun and entertaining and more than any one of us could have done alone.

But when comparisons seem to be the norm, this isn't an intuitive concept and it's something that has haunted me, in one way or another, all my life. My sister has always been smarter than I and John has always been more productive at work than I. And the real problem was that, in both cases, I concluded that, therefore, I was dumber and that I was a slacker at work because of the comparison. Who is it? Uhm... there's a quote from somewhere and somehow that comparison only makes the heart more bitter or more proud.

What's weirdly worse is that because I have friends that like to point me out as being smarter or more creative then them, I have felt guilty for what creativity, smarts, or capability I have. Not so guilty that I've stopped, but guilty nonetheless. Guilty enough to be scared of becoming even more efficient, in some ways. Guilty enough that when I looked at the long-term and self-oriented goal system inherent in the Franklin-Covey system, that I thought that I probably shouldn't get it.

I'm glad of John, though.

He drove me, at lunch time, to the one store in the area, even though it was like thirty miles away and the clerk took forever and a day to get everything to work because her computer systems were having problems with connecting to their central database and they didn't have starter kits made up in the size that I wanted and, on top of all that, I threw in a couple different discount coupons. But she was conscientious and did everything in detail and we ended up with really, really good deals. John also got a new cover for his, that is neon red and black rubber with a thousand pockets inside, which is infinitely more useful than the leather covers that have nothing more than a pencil loop.

Pencil. Yeah. Pencil. It's refreshing to have a system that assumes that you'll change, that things change, that life changes, and that plans have to change with it.

Anyway... there are two things that fired me off about the whole system. The first is that it is capable of long-term planning, that goals that take a significant portion of ones life don't have to have an end-date, and that they are mutable, changeable, and dependent on what happens. In essence, making a dream come true takes steps, time, and making things happen. The second was the meticulous ability to remember what one plans and what really happened, day by day, week by week, and even month by month. That any month is indexed so that in later months I can remember what happened and what I needed to remember because I have a way to look it up. It's my brain in a book, the way I'd always wanted my journals to be but never really had the technique or tools to do it cleanly or efficiently.

In many ways, it's about doing, predicated on knowing what I want to do. All starting from what I really think is important to me, rather than the other way around, where I think about what's important, what the world is pushing at me today and then do it. The turn around in my head is as astonishing as anything else.

One friend called it all a cult and I can see why. It really is all pretty seductive in some ways. But it's not like I'm letting anyone else do the thinking for me. I choose my goals, I choose what I think is important, and I think it is pretty darned effective at getting done what I really want to do. Once I figure out what those really are. It seems really weird, almost like voodoo or magic to write down 'publish a book within five years'. The Word, the idea, the seed being planted that might bring unthought of fruit.

Some of how this reflects here is that I've been wondering what's important. What I really need to be conscious of and what I really want to do with this journal. The conclusion I've been coming to is that this is important to me; but rather than just haphazardly listing everything that went on in a day, maybe I should just concentrate on the things that are important to me. It may be more interesting for me to write, then.

Work was actually mildly useful, today. I figured out, finally, what I should be doing, and started just doing it. Surprised Bob when I wrote him about stuff, but that was good. Probably get to talk with him on Thursday about stuff.

We wandered home, and ate some of the leftover chicken, and it was good. I think the stuffing got better with a little time to sit and soak up more taste. Then we packed.

I think we're getting too good at packing, when we can pack for an entire week in something under half an hour. Throw all the clothes on the bed, make sure all the bathroom bottles are full, run through the mental checklist, and add the three things specific for the trip. In this case the closing of the house and the fact that we were driving back added an ice chest, a bag full of papers, and shoes and coats for more conditions. Then we're done. That's scary.

We then went for a walk with Fezzik on the roads near the house and marveled at the near-full moon, the quiet streets, the planes that came in late, taxing along the runway to the house and their hangers. I really enjoy this neighborhood, as the planes don't really make so much noise that I ever get bothered, but it's fun to watch them fly. At night they're nothing more than clusters of lights in the night sky, buzzing and floating over our heads. The sky was covered with a very thin gauze of cloud, which the silver moon pierced easily. Fezzik was rambunctious, bouncing about, sniffing everything, and nearly bolted towards one house that had a dog barking. John caught him in time, and he stuck with us as we headed back.

It was odd to be able to see the house so clearly from nearly a quarter mile away. I'm still getting used to that, getting gradually used to seeing things that are still at a distance. Both John and I agreed that it was a good thing, this Big Sky country thing. No trees to fall on the house, no water to eat the house, and far fewer bugs without all the growth and water. No mosquitos, yet. Though that might be because of all the snow.

When we got back, I added half a dozen things to my lists for the next day and was promptly able to forget about 'em. The book would remember the things I didn't want to tax my brain holding. Then I sat down and, of all things, wrote a scene for a story rather than my journal entry.

Genevieve and I had been talking through a Faber story late in the day and some of it stuck in my brain. So I wrote it down. Then wrote the journal entry for the day and went to bed. Sleep was hard to find, though. I think the bright moon was causing Fezzik some restlessness, as well as the fact that he knows something's up when we pack. So around 2 am he woke me up by coming to the door and whimpering. John was cool and got up and let him out, and told me to wake him up if Fezzik barked or banged on the door. He went promptly back to sleep. I slept but I listened. At one point waking up while listening to barking far, far in the distance and wondering if it could be Fezzik; but an hour later, he started barking in the yard loud enough that John woke up on his own and opened the door for Fezzik

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