Sandy and I ate by the lake last night and reminded ourselves that this Friday, June 10, is my virtual party here at this same spot. I DO hope you all plan to attend and will tell others to join us too!
A friend recently recommended CREATIVE POWER, THE EDUCATION OF YOUTH IN THE CREATIVE ARTS, by Hughes Mearns, first published in 1929 and republished in 1958 by Dover Publications. The language feels dated today but his philosophy and approach to teaching kids to think and express themselves is timely in many ways. For example, this passage, which I take the liberty to quote to make a point. Mearns died more than half a century ago. “The general approval goes to the imitators. We set up models for everything. . . .The demand for one form of standardization is supplied by the publication of millions of copies of books of etiquette. A few of these, of course, have a higher purpose than to supply the proper phrase for all occasions of living, but, in the main, their great sales represent the universal hunger to conform, to annihilate one’s individuality of thinking and feeling. Perhaps the greatest humiliation, this side of criminal conviction, comes of a knowledge of having failed in social conformity.”
Mearns must have been a provocative figure in his day. It isn’t hard to imagine why his students loved him and produced creative work that few others could imagine they possessed. As writers we can draw lessons of our own from these words. To conform to the norm or speak in our own voice is a tough issue. I’ll talk more about this point at the workshop.