Saturday, January 14, 2012

Amy Tan in Seattle

Last Thursday I attended the UW Graduate School series Amy Tan lecture: "Creative Minds Do Not Think Alike." Hearing Amy speak was a strange and wonderful experience! She is an amazing storyteller in person as well as on the page and shared with the audience many bizarre stories from her childhood with a mentally-ill (my word, not hers; I believe hers was "crazy") mother who, at one point, held a meat cleaver to Amy's throat and threatened to kill her. Sobering stuff. Yet, Amy shared these stories in such a funny way that the audience was laughing as she described these macabre moments.

A few words of wisdom that stayed with me:

Amy said that she was motivated by asking herself every morning the existential questions of "Why am I here? What am I doing that makes a difference?" She said this helped her stay true to herself.

She said it was important not to try to analyze your own work, that "deconstructing" creativity is antithetical to the creative process, which she described as "constructing something from disparate sources."

Creativity is unconscious, she said, made up of a combination of "nature, nurture, and nightmares."

She closed her lecture by saying that the purpose in life is "to think deeply, feel deeply, and live deeply."