Wild Horses, Things, and Creativity

Sometimes I want to create something and I run into a limitation or constraint. It is at this point where I am tempted to give up and say that I just can’t do that.

At this time, I remember Maurice Sendak and the origins of Where the Wild Things Are. In this interview with Bill Moyers, he explains how the book was originally titled Where the Wild Horses Are, but he couldn’t draw horses.

She was this torrential woman, passionate woman, who could spot talent 10 miles away. I had no education. I did not go to art school. My drawing was so crude. I had shines on shoes like in Mutt ‘n’ Jeff in Walt Disney. And she saw through that monstrous crudity and cultivated me, really made me grow up. And then, it was time to do my own picture book.

And I came to her with a title that was “Where the Wild Horses Are.” And she just loved that. It was so poetic and evocative. And she gave me a contract based on “Where the Wild Horses Are.” And then, it turned out after some very few months to her chagrin and anger, I couldn’t draw horses. The whole book would have to be full of horses to make the book make sense.

And when I tried a number of things, I remember the acid tones. She said, “Maurice, what can you draw?” Okay. Cause she was investing in a full color picture book. That was an enormous thing back then.

And so, I thought well things, things.

Limits or constraints cannot hold back creativity. But it can help mold it in surprising directions.

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