Extrusion – The Creative Process

Hemingway once noted to the effect how he loved being a writer, but that the paperwork killed him, and I definitely identify with that. As I continue to grapple with the act of creating, I have been thinking a great deal about what that act is, and what it feels like. There is nothing easy about creating a work of literature, music, or art. Ease in creation belongs to God alone, for mortals it entails the pain of labor and the ability to feel – feel a good many things both pleasant and unpleasant, while remaining constantly mindful so that the thing created does not become unwieldy or nonsensical.

This is why it has occurred to me that the creative process is extrusive in nature. To extrude, is to force something out. Extrusion, in a manufacturing context involves pressing a material, metal for example, using incredible force through a die to create the finished product. Copper pipe is made through the extrusion process, where the solid metal is pressed through a circular die to create the pipe. The die determines the shape and diameter of the pipe. Creation is similar, the raw material of ideas, paint, or musical notes are pressed through the die, which I take to be the artist’s conception of his work, to produce the creation in its final form.

Extrusion as a creative act is both measured and forceful, a product of tremendous effort and focus to forge the creation from the raw material of ideas and inspiration. While artists, writers, and musicians may seem to be an eccentric bunch, they must possess discipline and control in order to create anything of value. If their work is of any enuring quality, if their creation has any chance of surviving them it must possess this extrusive quality. The emotive, affective, and intellectual inspiration that lies behind and within their work can only be felt and appreciated by those of us who benefit from their creations if it was pressed through their conceptual die with force and pressure. I am convinced this is why we can feel what Van Gogh sought to capture in his paintings, what Beethoven sought to evoke in his symphonies, what Keats communicated in his poetry.

I think this lends gravity to the act of creation, and presents a daunting challenge for those inclined to create. Creation isn’t easy, and most artists concede that there is an element in their work that is inseparable from themselves as creators. Rarely, if ever is art the byproduct of pure and instantaneous inspiration. Of course inspiration lies behind all good art. But, this inspiration is extruded through the creative process where the artists thoughts, feelings, hopes, and aspirations that may originate in that eternal realm of ideas are pressed through the die, and with it the artist may feel that he is pressed with them in order to arrive at the final work.

So, I must remind myself that this painful process of extrusion is part and parcel of the writers journey to create something that can be rightfully called art. For my friends that write and create, I offer this simple encouragement: embrace extrusion. There is a price to be paid to create anything of worth, but that precious price is what gives us a voice in the world, and the privilege of enriching the lives of those who enjoy our work.


Suffering and Beauty Under the Same Sky

One of the great joys of writing is to allow characters to wrestle with the problems of life. Jacob Brandt is a spiritual wrestler of sorts, struggling to make sense of a world that is at once brutal and beautiful. Over the course of The Damned May Enter, Jacob grapples with God over this very issue. Here’s an excerpt that sets the stage:IMG_3013

…The two men rode quietly through the countryside as they veered north toward the heart of wine country. It was still some time before the sun would rise and the early light of morning where shadows linger and colors remain silent. To the east the hills and the clouds that lingered above them took on the same soft purple hue, defiantly declaring that the sky was of the same substance as the land beneath it. The horizon stood as a constant reminder that heaven and earth were always meant to be joined. Eventually, the lavender clouds, set against a muted peach sky were transformed in an instant to molten orange as the sun ascended the horizon behind the mountains.

Jacob was lost in thought as he took in the morning spectacle. He felt a terrible splitness within his heart. The beauty of God’s creation that surrounded him was undeniable, yet under the same sky where the morning made its glorious display there was immeasurable suffering and pain. His brief time with Daniel had shaken the devastating stalemate in his embattled soul, but now he felt the deep dislocation of feeling, at once, deeply connected to the world God had made, all the while longing to escape its suffering.

San Diego Kingdom Writers Conference

I have had the pleasure of being part of the San Diego Kingdom Writers Association for the last few months. This gathering of authors (fiction, nonfiction, screenwriting, etc.), artists, musicians and other creative individuals who desire to use their creative gifts for God’s glory and Christ’s Kingdom has been a source of tremendous encouragement and inspiration for me. It is headed up by two brilliant authors, Brae Wyckoff and Manna Ko, whose passion is to instruct and inspire men and women to take hold of their God-given passions and talents and use them to God’s glory.

So, if this is something that interests you, SDKWA is putting on a fantastic conference – the Kingdom Writers Conference in Vista, CA from July 7-10. Several seasoned Christian authors will be speaking and encouraging you to take up that pen and write what God has put in your heart.