August 07, 2015

A note to myself: on creativity

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Sometimes, it feels as though I am pushing up against a brick wall.

Sometimes, being “creative” is a constant uphill struggle, constantly fighting for your right to create something with your bare hands in a world of gridded paper, calculators, grey suits and traditional ways of doing things.

The work itself doesn’t always have to be difficult, but how I feel when I explain what my life goal is, often is. The world, sometimes, doesn’t want you to create stuff because that would mean unpredictability(How will you make money? It’s not good for you to spend so much time alone writing. You should work in a Proper Job and have a Proper Life.)

It’s outside of your norm. Well, it’s outside of their norm. It’s shocking too, sometimes. Not so much for you, but for them: What? You did that? When? How? Why? When did you have time to do that? It’s easier for you to just sit at a 9-5, at the same desk, for the same of time, every day. And just do that. On repeat. Your job and life could just be a song on iTunes, going around and around and…..

Even at school. People would roll their eyes at our drama class. (Apart from us and our drama teacher. We got it.) These classes were the opportunity for me to genuinely create, collaborate, brainstorm, think up ideas, communicate in new ways, and take risks. Auditioning for a part, for example. This taught me how to be scared, to be confident, to sell myself, to believe that something was for me to take. We talked. And talked. And talked. I would get out extra books on Bertolt Brecht and Stanislavski and read them all. There was so much silence at school. Be quietBe quietBe quiet. But in these lessons I got to know my friends even better, which I didn’t think was possible. What happened in that studio gave us private jokes to last a lifetime. You remember more vividly the things you love, don’t you? When I close my eyes is one of the one memories of school I really truly have. We were free to create.

Then.

We are cutting the arts funds. 

We are cutting it. 

That’s what society tells you. Stop messing around with art. Kids ask: why? Because it’s just what people do. I would feel guilty from breaking away from that. From realising that the time spent in my own free time was time spent selling in the ideas that would eventually make me money. The stuff I did (which meant pushing against what I thought I should be doing) was the best work of my life. So far.

But then I wrote a note to myself: There’s so much more where that comes from. It wasn’t a choice though, because this little bubble inside me was about to burst if I didn’t keep on creating. I realised, so sharply, that if I stopped writing on this blog, if I stopped writing book proposals and books or ideas for publications that I would dry up. I’m not trying to take over the world here, just please let me do it. Just let me do it at 3am if I have to. Sometimes, it’s not for anyone else, it’s just for you, you know, your own mental health? I could imagine it: watching the sad little tale unfold before my eyes. The soul of a girl who used to fall asleep with a pen in her hand staining the duvet with ink, with half an idea written down and half the idea still on the pillow; the soul that used to burn would be shrivelled up to the size of a raisin because of boring expectations of boring lives. Don’t kill it off, it would be a shame. Keep alight that flickering little furnace that lights up in my stomach to tell me something is brewing. It is boiling up, forming itself, and then out it comes, from my fingers, from my body, out of the top of head. Sometimes you get knock-backs; a bad response to something you were proud of, or having to re-do something that got lost, or you get interrupted and your idea gets swept away with the wind.

Don’t peer over my shoulder please. I can’t tell you how much I need to be alone right now.

But recently, I’ve had a strength in me that feels different. The days I create are the days I fill full, happy, satisfied, a similar feeling after your favourite meal but it’s something you get to keep forever. I don’t buy into “not having time”, I don’t buy into “but it doesn’t pay my bills”. I buy into: finding the time to do thing you enjoy doing whenever you possibly can, even if everyone and everything is pointing towards “no”. Ignoring your gut is so dangerous.

Call creativity what you want. Call it hobby, call it job, call it a calling but to me it’s a lifestyle that is crucial to who I am as a human-being, and what makes me feel like I’m actually living as opposed to just dragging myself around. Creativity and the art of writing, photography, making, communicating isn’t something anyone can ever take away from you. It’s a life that you have to go and get. The more you put out there, the more that will come back to you.

I only ask for one thing in response, and that’s for no one to ever expect me to stop. You don’t have to read it. But I am never stopping. Being a creative person is a part of who you are, like an organ. Exactly like an organ. I refuse to do boring things, and I refuse to do something because it’s what everyone seems to be doing. I will always do it. I will always be right here writing and creating and publishing and sharing.

Now, where was I? Oh yes, planning my next thing.

 

Image source: @girllostincity, taken in Lisbon

  • This is so perfect. I feel the exact same way. More than anything in my life I have always identified as a writer. It was the first thing I knew when I was old enough to know better. When I’m not writing, I don’t feel like myself, but when I am? Like you said: I’m actually living.

  • Great read! ‘Keep alight that flickering little furnace that lights up in my stomach to tell me something is brewing’ is a beautiful sentence to hear in my head! xxxx

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