One of things I want to do is examine my own creative process more closely. I’ve started a new project, so now would be a good time to start this process.
There has been an idea bumping around in my head for years. I’ve been meaning to transfer it from my mind’s Potential Project file to the In Progress Project file. maybe I was waiting for it to transfer itself. It didn’t do it. Then it made the first move. At least that’s how it felt.
There are many reasons (excuses) for not making the transfer earlier.
- The first is that it’s a big idea. I had, and still have, no idea where to start. In writing that last sentence I think I just dismissed that excuse as not relevant. I have officially started the Project, but that has brought me no clarity. None at all. It’s a little disconcerting.
- The second is that it involves a long-dead family member, not of mine, but of my partner Tim. I must admit that I didn’t want to have to ask anyone in his family for help. More than that, I didn’t want them to even know that I had an idea for a project like this in the first place. If they know, then I would probably be asked questions that I couldn’t answer. This, by the way has happened already. Questions have been asked, and I have had no answers. But it hasn’t been a problem.
- The third is that I have been working on other projects. This is true, but also, I believe irrelevant. I am currently working on a different project, but that didn’t have any impact on starting this new one now.
When Does An Idea Become an Actual PROJECT?
A while back I created a folder on my computer that I named HJ Andrews. That’s the name of the project so far. It’s a straightforward name. Tim’s Great Grandfather’s name was Horace Justin Andrews. There is a little piece of land east of Eugene by the Blue River that is called HJ Andrews Experimental Forest. So, as you can see, I spent no brain power coming up with this name.
But the creation of a folder did not commence the project. The folder sat there empty for months. Sometimes my eye would dwell briefly on it. I occasionally momentarily felt mildly guilty.
I also bounced around ideas with Tim, but nothing manifested. Nothing stuck nor begged to be explored more. The idea remained only an idea.
Now It’s a Project!
Last month I met with a friend, Trevor, in San Francisco about an exhibition we are creating as a collaborative project. After showing me his work and telling me a long personal story about what was driving his drawings and, in fact the entire exhibition he has conceived, he asked what I had in mind to create. I opened my mouth and out poured the whole story about the HJ Andrews idea. It made perfect sense in that particular moment. Tim was with me and I asked him to fill in details for me when my own information was insufficient. ‘I am planning,’ I heard myself say, ‘to use this exhibition to launch this new major project that I suspect will progress for years.’ This is not at all what I had planned to do for the show. But Trevor’s eyes lit up. He thought it was a great idea.
In a spontaneous act I announced the beginning of the project to two witnesses. That’s how this particular idea has turned into a project. It’s not the regular trajectory an idea usually takes, but this one is one of the more defined paths an idea has taken.
To seal the deal, when I got back to Oregon, I asked Tim’s family if I could borrow the binders they have of HJ Andrews’ documents. They are huge and demanded that I carve out a space for them in my small office area. I have scanned a document or two. There are pink flags on pages in the binders – placed there by me.
And now I am telling anyone that reads this that I have started a new project called HJ Andrews (title open for revision).
What this idea needed to finally manifest itself into Project form was for me to announce it formally as so. I have announced what I have been thinking. Now I no longer have an idea – I have a Project.