Monday, March 2, 2009

Those creative types: Bourdain arranging flowers, Ikebana style

This week, I turn my attention to the thoughts and endeavors of creative people in the arts; composers, theme-park engineers, album cover designers sharing their thoughts about the creative process.

The idea came when I caught a snippet of Anthony Bourda
in's No Reservation on TV a few weeks ago. You may know Bourdain to be the macho, chain-smoking chef who travels around the world sampling foods and pontificating. (The man gets to cook, eat, and write for a living? How jealous am I?)

Anyway, in this episode, he is in Japan, (Kyoto, I think) and he is given a chance to try his hand at arranging flowers and plants, Ikebana style, a style that emphasizes not so much the prettiness of the flowers, but the organic forms and lines of all parts of the plants: stems and twigs as well as flowers; how each element interact with the others; and being mindful of the spaces created between the lines.

It tickled me to see this world-weary, no-nonsense guy stare at the stems placed in front of him, trying to figure out what to do. He is always so sure of his opinions and to see him hesitate in front of some humble cut plants is refreshing. His guide, an expert in Ikebana, encourages him to just pick things up and find out where each plant is "happy." Soon, we see Bourdain muttering about is it happy here? I think I'll put this here, and cut this, and is it happy?

I am not the mystic-prone type writer, I don't sit at the computer waiting for my characters to talk through me and show me what they're going to do each day. But I think there is also an element about a creative process that is outside our control. It may not be a bad idea, at times, to step back from our work, and figure out if it is "happy." This advice is an especially good one for control freaks like me.

I wish you: happy manuscripts.

[CherryBlossomFestival_Japantown_Ikebana_04142008_951by javier.blazquez
CherryBlossomFestival_Japantown_Ikebana_04142008_993by javier.blazquez
Both pictures found on Flickr, Creative Commons.]


Melissa said...

Very nice, and I saw that Bourdain episode as well. He keeps a wry sense of humor while having reverence for what matters...another good way to look at the work of writing. Good luck!

Yat-Yee said...

Yes, absolutely. He looked so pleased with his finished work, didn't he?