Tuesday, October 05, 2010

The Creativity of Options by Leona Beasley

Foolish but innocently I went with my wife to pick out a dog. Though we’d looked at a number of dogs several times before. I knew in my heart we’d come back with Jackson.

The problem at hand is I had no idea how difficult, challenges, how much work it takes to care for a dog. Nor did I know just how much of a concrete decision I was making.

In grad school I studied with a wonderfully talented writer, and a generous spirit, Abigail Thomas. Her memoir “A Three Dog Life” is a lovely account of life, hope, transformation and love after her husband’s tragic accident.

In class Abby read passages from all types of books: scientific, fiction, poetry, memoir. After the reading Abby gave an assignment linked to the readings.

One assignment might be, “Now write a story where you encounter some one from your past.” Another, “Write a story that includes an orange, a back door and someone with a tattoo.” You get the picture.

I loved having these contained options. Maybe they helped build perimeters of safety around my then budding writing skills. With these added options I unexpectedly got a richness added to my writing. I always came up with stories I liked, some I even loved.

There is an axiom that says Creativity is the Elimination of Options.

I don’t know if this was Abby’s intent, but creativity blossomed in the class each week when person after person read their work out loud. It had a bit of magic.

The option to add Jackson to our family is both scary and expensive as well as time consuming. The alternative option my wife like wouldn’t like. Send him back.

The best option in this life story is to allow the story to play out, and to include a dog name Jackson, a wife who travels and a writer who creates. And see what happens.