I attended the 5×15 event with Carlo Rovelli and Neil Gaiman last night and was struck by this quote from Petrarch that Neil mentioned:
We must write just as the bees make honey, not keeping the flowers but turning them into a sweetness of our own, blending many very different flavours into one, which shall be unlike them all, and better.From James Harvey Robinson, ed. and trans.
Petrarch: The First Modern Scholar and Man of Letters
(New York: G.P. Putnam, 1898)
This seems to me to be both a practical and beautiful way of thinking about how the act of creating something is accomplished. All of us acquire a huge amount of information every day and when we sit down to write, or paint, or make art in any way, this is what we do. We find ourselves inspired by certain things we have experienced/seen/read/heard and then we remodel them into something new as we craft them. But the newness doesn’t just stem from that moment of creation. It is generated from nothing less than everything we are at the point of creation.
Each one of us is built on a set of circumstances that is unrepeatable in time and space and we continue to change and grow through yet more unrepeatable moments as we live through each day. Our minds and our art are both defined by and blossom forth from the uniqueness of our life. We are the living embodiments of a river; you can never meet the same person twice in exactly the same way that you can never step into the same river twice.
We remake ourselves from moment to moment with everything we learn, everything we feel, everything we think.
We are creatures of change and our ability to create stem from that change.
And I think that is the most magical thing about us.
Edited to add that if you’d like to see the conversation between Neil and Carlo, it’s now on YouTube: