I recently picked up Twyla Tharp's The Creative Habit while I was waiting for a train. I'm in a creative field, right? It could be applicable, right?

And in theory it is applicable. In fact, it's astonishing to me how much of this material is already pretty familiar to me thanks to 43folders and other devotees of David Allen's Getting Things Done. Certainly large sweeps of the book have been interesting so far, in advice such as establishing a set ritual that tells your brain and body it's time to work; or harnessing the power of memory to spur your creative force, or to communicate your creative message to others. Good stuff.

Much of what she says, though, is (and understandably so) significant mainly for artists who are following an established craft. The base assumption is that it is easy to determine what concrete technical skills your art requires, and hone them accordingly. We in puppetmastery are still feeling our way forward in the darkness (or, well, I am, at any rate). I often have an identity crisis, in which I can't decide if I should be adhering to the principles and practices of cinema, or of novel-writing, or live-performed theater, or traditional video games, or...

The problem, I think, is that we are cousins to all of those things, while not being quite the same as any of them. There are elements of craft to borrow from all -- particularly those elements that are shared among all of them -- but we're in essence our own creature. Our vocabulary is still emerging, our necessary skillset not yet clearly defined; much as we might like to immerse ourselves in the great works of our genre, or study and internalise the methods of our great mentors, there is yet a very limited body of works and mentors from which to draw. As a community of creators, we are thus far largely operating on instinct, for better or for worse.

There are rewards, too, to being in this nebulous, exciting time in such an art as ours. It's exhilarating to think you're on the cusp of something magnificent, and maybe even helping to nurture it into what it can become. These problems of craft and identity, they are the domain of pioneers.

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