Okay, I hooked you in with a title that sounds like I actually know something and somehow have some expertise to share beyond the usual brain-drippings of a noodling writer-type idiot. Unfortunately I don’t. I am a practicing creative person. But do I know how it works? I do not.
I suspect that it has something to do with my actual life experiences. I am not God. When I get a creative idea, it is made from known things. I don’t snap my fingers and make a snerflkuppie, the first one that ever existed, and give it actual substance and reality. Okay, metaphorically I did just make the first snerflkuppie… It is about three feet tall, has glossy purple fur and three legs. Four puppy-like eyes, a wide mouth, and no nose… I dare you not to try and picture it in your mind’s eye. But there isn’t one skipping about in this universe. I can only take known things and recombine them in unique and surprising ways. My novels are about kids doing kid stuff… you know, like time travel, being kidnapped by aliens, uncovering werewolf plots, and making magical cookie people. Stuff that really happened. And I am a former teacher, so I have experience knowing real kids.
If you think kids you see depicted on television and in the movies are realistic, you have never played a video game with a real kid. You have never had them tell you what they are really afraid of. You have never come to the conclusion that they actually know a whole lot more about sex than you do. And kids are not afraid to try something new for the first time (unless, of course, the thing they are going to try is what their parents want them to try for the first time). You take liquid one and mix it with powder two, watch it fizz, and then drink it. You don’t know if it will taste good, turn you into a muscle-bound Mr. Hyde-type monster, or blow you up like a firecracker. But you made it yourself and you are going to try. We generally think of kids as being creative and undisciplined. We expect time and experience to take the unruliness, as well as the creativity, out of them. It is the thing we refer to as, “growing up”. But I think being creative is, to some degree, remaining a child. I am a child because I continue to hold play-time in high regard, and do it as often as I can. Writing words on paper, or on my laptop, is playing to me. Drawing pictures with pen and ink and colored pencils is also playing to me. Fortunately mixing chemicals from the cupboard like a mad scientist and testing them on my sister is no longer playing to me. (And that, Nancy, is just a joke… I never actually did that… I think… I hope…)
So, there you have it. The ultimate answer. Where does creativity come from? I do not know.