Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Quotations on creativity—Gertrude Stein

Portrait of Gertrude Stein, with American flag as backdrop (1935 January 4)
Photographer: Carl Van Vechten
Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Van Vechten Collection, reproduction number LC-USZ62-103680

Graphic design students as well as writers may find this quote, by American expatriate writer/author Gertrude Stein, an interesting model for practice:

… ‘You will write … if you will write without thinking of the result in terms of a result, but think of the writing in terms of discovery, which is to say the creation must take place between the pen and the paper, not before in a thought, or afterwards in a recasting. Yes, before in a thought, but not in careful thinking. It will come if it is there and you will let it come, and if you have anything you will get a sudden creative recognition. You won’t know how it was, even what it is, but it will be creation if it came out of the pen and out of you and not out of an architectural drawing of the thing you are doing … I can tell how important it is to have that creative recognition. You cannot go into the womb to form the child; it is there and makes itself and comes forth whole—and there it is and you have made it and felt it, but it has come itself—and that is creative recognition. Of course you have a little more control over your writing than that; you have to know where you want to get; but when you know that, let it take you and if it seems to take you off the track don’t hold back, because that is perhaps where instinctively you want to be and if you hold back and try to be always where you have been before, you will go dry’ …

Quote found in “The Uses of the Unconscious in Composing” by Janet Emig (1964), 7-8. In her essay, Emig cites her source as: John Hyde Preston, “A Conversation with Gertrude Stein,” in Brewster Ghiselin, The Creative Process (New York, 1962), 159-160.

Emig, Janet A. “The Uses of the Unconscious in Composing.” JSTOR: College Composition and Communication, Vol. 15, No. 1, Composition as Art. JSTOR, Feb. 1964. Published by: National Council of Teachers of English. Web. 21 July 2010.

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