Made in Public

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Moments of public creation:

1. Walking through a movie set on the streets of Manhattan, where they're changing the storefront signs out or have put old cars lined up on one side of the street to transform it into some time far in the past.

2. Drawing geometric shapes in full color pencil on the backs of postcards while a children's band sings to a café full of laughing (and occasionally bawling) 4-year-olds.

3.Taking a photograph of a subway mural. Holding your breath so that you don't shake the phone camera, knowing you look like a tourist the whole time. Breathe. When you exhale, the bustling comes back and the passerby - impatient with your motionlessness - gently knock against you with their bags and dangling arms. So you flow back into their midst.

4. Writing long missives on the train to your destination; completing whole novels that you dutifully scratch out when you get home to type them up, afraid. Your mind goes free in transit, and you don't know what it's going to bring up.

5. Knitting anything, anywhere. Try it and you're bound to get some stares - even more curious than the children in the café - at the way your hands are moving. Another knitter will often come and start up a conversation, so be prepared.

6. Lingering too long in a bookstore because, in picking out the title of the next book you want to read, you've stumbled upon the topic of your next bestseller/short story/blog post, and you simply can't help but scribble down notes. On a napkin, because you have no paper. With the nub of a pencil, because your pen's run out. But the words are there, the images are there, pushing at the far edges of your skull cavity and threatening to leak out and float away like specters on the wind.

This is the draw of public creation.

The time crunch pushes you; the people engage you; you are no longer constrained by expectations of perfection because hey, you did it on a train.

In my head, I heard a cliché list poem - very common at slams - and wanted to catch it and turn it into a post. When have you been caught creating in public? Let me know on Twitter.

I finished National Novel Writing Month! I wrote 12,000 words in one day to finish a short story collection that I will be editing throughout December - once I've gotten some more sleep. I'm very proud and ready to keep up my writing work. Speaking of which, have you seen the interview I did with Kavita Das over at As[I]Am? It's an enlightening piece about social justice work and getting your hands dirty, so check it out.