“In the beginning of Genesis,” Linda Seger tells us, “it says the Spirit of God hovered over the deep.” That pause before the act of creation began has become a source of inspiration for her. “I got to thinking, that’s what Quakers do. We hover. We hover before we speak, and that’s what the artist can do… Before you go over to the easel, before you go to the computer, just sit there and hover for a minute.”
As an author and former screenwriting consultant, Linda has spent more than 50 years considering the places where creativity and spirituality meet. In this conversation, she reflects on some of the themes of her most recent book, God’s Part in Our Art, and how they were shaped by her Quaker faith.
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I think when we start getting ready to write (in my case writing is one of my art forms), that being able to center allows you to go to the computer or to start that process without being in a frenetic, desperate state. And at every step along the way, every time you start to get frenetic — like “Oh, it’s not where I want it to be! Will I ever do this?” You just– you know, it’s all part of the process.
Quakerism, Creativity, and the Artistic Process
My name is Linda Seger, I live in the Mountain of Colorado (just about 5 or 8 miles from Colorado Springs), and I’m actually what I call a Quaker at Large now, which means I am taking advantage of the Zoom meetings that are all over the world and I’m finding out a lot of, kind of where I fit. I’m going to Portland, OR; I go to Cambridge, MA; and sometimes to New Zealand on Saturday afternoons; and I’m finding that a very, very rich experience partly because my next book is going to be about Quakers.
The Intersection of Creativity and Spirituality
I have been interested in this intersection of creativity and spirituality for almost 50 years now, and I find that intersection is very close to Quakerism and I think also that sense of being called to do your art– whatever that art form is– that you say, “Ok God, here’s the deal: I feel called to do this (I felt very much called to do this book), so if I feel called to do this you’ve got to help me out. That’s the deal. And you have to keep going. When I’m losing my discipline you have to help bring me up.” So I usually start with the writing with some quiet time and just say, “You know, God, this is the next step so be with me and let your Spirit be with me.” So there’s a– and in “God’s Part in Our Art” there’s a lot of places where the things I found out about creation and creativity in the bible, to me, were very Quakerly.
The Art of “Hovering”
In the beginning of Genesis it says the Spirit of God hovered over the deep, and the correct translation seems to be the word “hover” rather than “move,” and I got to thinking that’s what Quakers do. We hover. We hover before we speak, and that’s what the artist can do– is before you go over to the easel, before you go to the computer, just sit there and hover for a minute. One person described it as the diver before they dive in; that they have that moment of anticipation. So I learned to hover and I learned as a result of doing this research on creativity, to rest.
A Need for Joy in Creation
A Need for Joy in Creation
One of the things I learned in writing “Gods Part in Our Art,” was about joy. That the creation stories are filled with joy. At the creation of the world the morning star sang, and Sophia (wisdom) was by God’s side and she was a delight. If we don’t have joy in our work, in our art, we are missing a very good, big part of this. Nobody makes us do our art. It’s very rare for anyone to say, “I will make you paint that picture” or write that novel or do whatever that is. So the only– that we have to have joy not just in the result, we have to have joy in the process. And whatever we have to do to create the joy in the midst of the discipline, I think that becomes just as important as creating the piece.
- 1) How does spirituality help you with your art, whatever it may be?
- 2) What is the importance of joy within a creativity process?
The views expressed in this video are of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Friends Journal or its collaborators.