I tried something different the other day and went to a mosaic class. It’s an art form that had never been on my radar before; or so I thought. Now I see that I’m always looking at pretty patterns and tiles, and so have been appreciating mosaics all along.

Anyway – another lesson on creativity for me. I have never touched a tile before, never mind created a work of art out of it. Most others in the class were in the same position and had a fairly relaxed attitude about the endeavor. Just pick a few colours they like, formulate a vague pattern and get going!

Not me. Mine had to be a masterpiece. It had to be the greatest piece of mosaic-making ever conceived by a complete beginner in the history of mosaic art. The colours would be blistering and precise, the pattern would be startling in its wild but uniform beauty. Like the others, I got going too. But I can’t say I was relaxed about it, I was taking it far too seriously for that. Hours passed. People finished, laughing and delighted with their work, heading on into the night, perhaps to sip a glass of wine, go watch a movie, or go to bed, their minds soothed after such a colourfully creative break.

I got myself into a terrible muddle. What I’d had in my head did not translate onto my mosaic. I caught myself thinking: God, I am shit at this.

Now can you imagine? Here it is, the death of creativity, right there. HOW can you be shit at something that you have never done before? It has been the same with my writing all these years, I have not allowed myself the leeway of experimentation. Stuff has come pouring out and because it hasn’t been perfect, a masterpiece from the get-go, I have dashed it aside, slapping it with the forlorn and deathly label of failure. This is simply not how creativity works, it does not, can not, will never work like this.

Look at a three year old painting with his fingers, or schlepping in the mud or building a sandcastle. That’s how creativity works. Or rather, doesn’t work. It’s play.

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