It’s an understatement to say I’m not a fashionista. It’s an overstatement to suggest that I spend any real time picking my clothes. I may know about Dior and Michael Kors and Lagerfeld, but my real designers are Champion and Fruit Of The Loom. My daily wear consists of sweats and sweatshirts unless I have to leave the house–in jeans and a variation of a t-shirt.
So what’s a schlub doing watching Project Runway for ten years? Certainly not for Heidi Klum’s Auf Wiedersehen as she thins the herd of wannabe clothing designers. Tim Gunn’s warmth has started to feel pro forma and his wardrobe choices bizarre. Worse, I really don’t like Nina Garcia, the longest lasting judge.
There’s more to dislike. The fact that producers have input on who stays and who goes, based, I’m sure, more upon the personality of particular contestants than merit. That’s a big one. Also their decisions about who stays and goes based upon that single week’s showing as opposed to a body of work over time—or so they say.
What draws me to Project Runway is my opportunity to watch the creative process. Sure, I can read a great book and marvel at the author’s creativity. Same with movies, plays, art, and good TV (which is not an oxymoron). But those things are done deals, finished products to admire and analyze from the outside. Following the process of creation—complete with its ideas, false starts, aha moments, adjustments, is endlessly fascinating—be it designing clothes, cooking (The Iron Chef), house renovation (Property Brothers), or even the art of the sale (Selling New York, etc) continues to be one of my greatest pleasures. It makes me feel better struggling with my job of channeling it from within.
Another example: Tuesdays I go to Music Maker Studios (http://musicmakerstudios.com/) for my sax lesson followed by a session playing in an ensemble. There are times when one or the other of our group really gets it going and improvises the hell out of a song. Just listening makes me incredibly happy. It’s as if a muse is in their head. Which it probably is since my best writing occurs when I’m just scribbling down the movie in my mind.
Somewhat similar, I remember watching a YouTube clip of a policeman in the middle of a crazy busy intersection on his box and using his arm signals and body motions as if conducting a world class orchestra. Perhaps he was. What is certain is everyone who passed him by caught at least a glimpse of “performance art.” Call me crazy, but I find moments like that spiritually uplifting.
The point? Exposing myself to others’ creative processes is nourishment for my own. My Tuesday nights will never turn me into a Stan Getz, but I’ve listened and learned to play better. And more importantly, write better.
Years ago, I wrote a post, “Writing From The Heart,” (http://zacharykleinonline.com/personal-experience/writing-from-the-heart/) which was an attempt to identify the place my best writing comes from. That column still holds true, but I’ve learned through music, the cop (and Heidi) that immersing myself in other peoples’ creativity enhances and informs my own.
What’s nice about this realization is its compatibility with my political beliefs. We really don’t stand alone as individuals but are interconnected to others. We build upon and are inspired by people who came before or work beside us in ours and other fields. Seems like a simple idea, but in these Randian times even simple gets blowback.
Sadly, all too many in the arts would vociferously defend their work as theirs. And it is, though from where I sit, never only theirs.
So fellow writers and artists, musicians and policemen, and everybody who gives a shit about being creative—you are not alone. It makes sense to remember that. Makes all the solitude a little easier to take.
“Your chances of success are directly proportional to the degree of pleasure you derive from what you do.” Michael Korda