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Allan designs and plants flowering gardens in Montreal, Zone 5 [USDA Zone 4] .

See website, design work and favorite flowering plants at

Consultation and coaching for do-it-yourselfers is provided. Occasional emailed questions are welcome and answered free of charge. Oui, je parle francais.

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The Imaginary Magic Butterfly Net in our Brain

Boy With Butterfly Net by Henri MatisseI cannot sit down at the computer and create a blog on demand. I need an inspiration. Sometimes that push will come from a comment in another garden writer’s blog; very often a news articles will stimulate a discussion, and occasionally an idea will hit me out of the blue. The inspiration might come while driving the car, taking a shower, reading a magazine, or falling asleep. The same goes for the flash of ideas needed to solve a garden design problem. I am unable to create flower compositions, standing on my feet, as I consult with a client who wants a solution now. I must first relax and listen to the humming of the cogs in my brain.

That is why I cannot understand how painters and writers are able to bury themselves in their studios for hours, with the expectation that they will create something marketable. I recognize that they do so because they need to eat or support a family. Nevertheless, it boggles this writer’s mind how they can produce creative matter on demand.

Two prominent member of the entertainment industry have shed illuminating insight on this subject.

David Foster is by far the most successful person in the popular music industry. Composer, music producer, performer, he has reached the highest level of success both for himself and the artists he nurtures. An interviewer once asked him if there was a well inside him that he draws upon for his creativity. Mr. Foster replied that creativity is not something that we store inside ourselves. It flows through us. And when it does, we must recognize it and capture it at that very moment.

Justin Timberlake is an extraordinarily talented singer, dancer and composer who began his career as a lead singer and dancer in a boy band that catered to young girls. Over the years he has managed to re invent himself several times; today he is respected by a wide fan base that covers all ages, gender and race. Recently, it was reported in the media that although he has not produced a new body of work since 2006, he refuses to feel pressured to make another CD. This is how he explained it:

 “Does a painter make a painting because he has to make it by December 21? No, he doesn’t. It happens when it pours out of him. That’s how music is for me”.

The above two opinions confirm my own take on this subject. The talent that accompanies creativity may be likened to a magic butterfly net in one’s mind. When one feels the creative ideas flowing through, when one is inspired, one must grab that net and capture the moment. That is how I approach design and blogging. The gardens that I compose on demand, and the blogs that I post because I must, are never quite as successful as those that result from a spontaneous, revealing moment that sweeps through my imagination. When I feel it happening, the magic butterfly net is nearby.

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Reader Comments (1)

Allan, I like the metaphor of the butterfly and the butterfly net for creativity and our attempts to capture it. I tend to live a very scheduled life, so I often can't sit down and devote the time to write when inspiration strikes me. My compromise is to make notes on my ideas when they strike me and then come back and flesh them out and do the wordsmithing when my schedule allows. I just checked, and I currently have notes for 12 different blog posts stored in Windows Live Writer, and I have photographs for at least 2 more (plant portraits) collected in my photo archives.
BTW, I've been very much enjoying your Middle East travelogue.

October 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJean

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