I’d like to preface this by saying I don’t intend this series to be an instruction manual. I haven’t spent enough time learning to profess to be able to teach anyone anything. Nor do I intend this to be an exercise in pretense.
I am an admirer of the human brain. Specifically, its ability to absorb existing information, synthesizing that information in a way distinct to that specific mind, and create. Something identifiable and familiar to others, while offering something new. Whether a song, skyscraper, painting, poem, the mediums merely cater to taste. But all mediums hold equal relevance and command equal reverence as a thought committed to a tangible form; with a life of its own, frozen in time: a lightning bug in a jar with holes poked in the lid.
But the most evocative attribute of these committed thoughts is their predilection to bounce off of other minds, generating information to be synthesized into new creations.
My thesis is that every human mind has the capacity to be creative. Some minds may be predisposed to specific mediums, but it is my belief that each mind has a distinct voice to offer the collective consciousness.
My aim with this series is to share my experiences in my creative endeavors, in hopes of helping any who believe they aren’t creatively predisposed to see otherwise, and maybe gain a little introspective insight along the way.
So enough with the pre-ambling: my name is Chris Kuskey. I am a small time singer-songwriter from Moundsville, West Virginia. I wrote my first “lyric” in the eighth grade, but didn’t start calling myself a “songwriter” until my senior year of high school. Since, I’ve recorded a pair of albums of original material and officially reached the point of being far too invested in the act of writing to dream of anything else.
Richard Peck, one of my favorite authors, said “I never set out to write about myself, but I always end up having written about myself.” When I first began fancying myself a writer, I was drawn to the notion of populating idyllic settings with characters of my creation; weaving tales about road-worn buskers and distressing damsels and investment bankers and used-car salesmen. But each foray yielded something other than the original intention. The result was always a treatise on some segment of my world view, whether wanderlust or ambition or resignation or sardonic defiance (real high school shit). Try as I may to create new worlds, invariably would I make some statement or raise questions about the world I was in and the way my mind interacted with it. And even as I developed my voice and began to create characters I felt were ‘convincing,’ the impetus of the characters themselves revealed something about me.
And this, for me, is the draw of the writing mindset. Writing forces you, whether by interstate or scenic route, to come face to face with yourself. The verse that comes represents something internal and unique to the mind of the writer becoming tangible, the inexpressible finding language.
The song becomes not only evocative for the listener in its ability to create a mood or pull a memory, but can serve as a model to the writer. The creation holds truths about the mind of the creator, and many of these truths cannot be revealed by other means. The province of the mind is often formless and haphazard, but once a thought is expressed, the hazy inclinations of the brain can be viewed objectively, studied, and used to derive patterns, draw roadmaps of one’s own mind. I have yet to find language to describe this sensation, its tendency to be terrifying and thrilling and empowering and surprising and thoroughly addictive.
And if you’ve indulged me this long, I thank you. But I do believe that’s a longwinded enough overview. I’d like to promise the subsequent installments will be more specific and succinct, but exactly half of that statement would be true (I’ll let you guess which half). But in the meantime, I’ll leave you with an experiment: one morning, spend five minutes handwriting something. Anything. It could be as elaborate as a poem or as simple as what you plan to have for breakfast. See if this affects your thinking as the day goes on. I find the act of free handwriting in the morning not only leaves my brain feel less cluttered and fervent during the tasks of the day, but also helps me stay in a creatively receptive mindset.