Understanding Creativity Backwards: Starting With The Questions

It’s all whizzing up in the food processor. Right now.

It boiled in a pot before that. It lay buried in mud before that. It germinated from seed before that.

I reached a very important milestone this past weekend: I made a meal like I do on every day of the week. The difference:  each ingredient was sourced from my allotment garden. That darn patch of soil that has had me sitting on the edge of a raised bed, sweat beads streaming down my neck, hair all fuzzed up in a messy bun, shaking my head at myself.

I had no idea what I was getting myself into two years ago. I knew it would be hard physical work: I mean it was a literal weed and mud collective prior to the rotavator making a terrible noise across the patch of land that marked out my 80 square metres of soil. But I had no inclination whatsoever as to the exasperation I would feel at times, the disheartening reality when I arrived back after two weeks of not being able to be there and staring at weeds so high, I could cry. No one prepared me for the fact that I would actually resent a plant going into bloom because said plant is a weed and that its pollen is everything I don’t want everywhere. I definitely didn’t think a day would come where I would settle on my haunches in the pouring rain and think that it was all a little overwhelming.

The potatoes, onions, garlic, chives and other herbs sweat in the skillet pan, the pungent earthy smell of steam and butter swelling in the room.

I consider what it means for something to be established. We commonly associate establishment with the produce, the yield, the outcome; generally we regard it as established when fruitful, successful and bearing positive results.

Creativity is a little different, or rather my hunch is that creativity requires a different definition of established.

In creative terms, established cannot only be about the yielding of the fruit:

Is it something we reach for?

It is a by product of  what we strive for?

Is it an accidental occurrence as a result of effort?

It is it a given?

Does it require reaching?

I start with the questions as I turn loamy soil in my hand, planning for the frost which the weatherman predicts for tomorrow.

Post and photo by Claire Burge, author of Spin: Taking Your Creativity to the Nth Degree.



spin: taking your creativity to the nth degreeWant to take your creativity further? Check out Claire Burge’s new illustrated title, Spin: Taking Your Creativity to the Nth Degree from T. S. Poetry Press.

And join us for our new book club discussion on Spin, beginning November 6.


  1. says

    Miss Claire – this is precisely why I volunteer at a farm in the summertime. Gardening on such a large scale strips a person down. Then, I reckon, we have some choices as to how we can build ourselves back up, right in the middle of the weeds and muck and more weeds and heat and more weeds.

    For me, there’s no way I can ever shake off and be clean of all the dirt. It is part of me. And the same goes for creativity, aye? It might be just under our nails.

    Thanks miss Claire.


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