Creativity (noun)

Creativity (n): the use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work.

Recently, I have been listening to Elizabeth’s Gilbert’s Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear on audiobook. Because of this, I’ve been considering “the cult of artistic martyrdom.” I believe that with this phrase, Gilbert perfectly summarizes this phenomenon of how current culture views artists and their craft. Seemingly, all artist must suffer so that they may create good art. I, along with Gilbert, think this is neither an accurate nor healthy outlook to have on the creative life, especially since I want so desperately to live one.

But what does the creative life look like?

I believe that it is not any one thing, because it is by nature creative. This life looks different from person to person. Except for this fact: each and every creative person is doing what they love.

And Gilbert goes one step further to suggest that the creative person’s work loves them as much as they love it. And I love that thought.

Gilbert supports her theory with this reasoning:

“I have chosen to believe that a desire to be creative was encoded into my DNA for reasons I will never know, and that creativity will not go away from me unless I forcibly kick it away or poison it dead. … If destiny didn’t want me to be a writer, I figure, then it shouldn’t have made me one.

My DNA is unalterably encoded so that I must write and read voraciously. If I am not doing either, then I am not entirely happy. Now, I’m not saying that my happiness depends solely on these activities. Rather, I am saying that I am not absolutely myself if I do not read or write for at least a few minutes every day. If I stop either of these activities, I can feel the difference in my daily disposition.

Gilbert terms this daily choice to be a creative individual as “stubborn gladness.” No matter what comes – the good, the bad, and the ugly – she chooses to move forward with stubborn gladness. Which is to say, no matter what, Liz Gilbert is thankful to do what she loves.

I find that to be inspiring. I too want to write daily with stubborn gladness, come what may. I may never write a bestselling novel. I may never even be a published author. But I shall always be a creative individual who loves to write.

So let me end with the words that inspired me, with hopes that they’ll inspire you too.

“I don’t ever choose to believe that I’ve been completely abandoned in the creative wilderness or that there’s reason for me to panic about my writing. I choose to trust that inspiration is always near by, the whole time I’m working, trying its damnedest to impart assistance. It’s just that inspiration comes from another world, you see, and it speaks a language entirely unlike my own, so sometimes we have trouble understanding each other. But inspiration is still sitting right there beside me and it is trying, inspiration is trying, to send me message in every form it can.

Here’s to you, friend. Do what you love.

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Perfect (noun)

Perfect (n): having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; free from any flaw or defect in condition or quality; faultless.

Some days, I wish I was a unicorn. Not because I wish to be a four-legged creature with a horn in the middle of my forehead. Rather, my wish is to have the mythical perfection that the unicorn possesses.

I have a tendency to be a perfectionist. The problem with that tendency is that I can never be perfect.

I will never to be able to do all the tasks in a day that I aspire to accomplish.

I will never be faultless in any of my actions.

I will never know how to flawlessly communicate with other human beings.

I will never be perfect in anything I do, no matter how much I wish to be.

It’s simply not in the human capacity to be perfect, and I am most definitely human. But you know what I love about humans? They are perfectly imperfect. Often, a person’s flaws can lead to their greatest strengths.

For example, what I believe to be my biggest flaw is my reading and writing ability, or lack thereof. I am dyslexic, and that fact is inescapable. However, for some unknown reason, I have chosen to develop my reading and writing skill set.

A learning disability affects social ability as well, even if it’s only to a small degree. Sometimes, it takes me a long time to process what someone else has said to me in the midst of a conversation, and I stand there looking like a fool because I’m not sure what has been said until several seconds later. This happens embarrassingly often. Other times, I struggle with remembering what word I was planning on speaking next, and I stand there struggling silently with my mouth opening and closing like a fish out of water. However, for some equally unknown reason I have chosen to develop my communication skill set.

Strangely, because of my choices, reading, writing, and communication have become three of my greatest talents.

Have you ever read Percy Jackson? If you haven’t, then you’re missing out on a great piece of YA lit. If you have, then you may already know where I’m going with this. In the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, the topic of fatal flaws is mentioned frequently. The following quote comes from The Titan’s Curse.

“The most dangerous flaws are those which are good in moderation.”

Ever since I read the series, I have taken this idea and dwelled on it until I developed my own understanding of this concept. I believe that our greatest strengths and abilities can also be our greatest struggles.

I struggle the most with the written word. The written word is also my greatest strength.

In the past, I have quested for perfection. Now, I am beginning to realize that my greatest imperfections lead to my greatest abilities. Because of my struggles with dyslexia, I developed my reading, writing, and social skills. Now, I consider those three things to be what I do best. Even though I’m not perfect.

I cannot be the mythical unicorn that is perfect. However, I can be me, and I can learn even through my imperfections. To me, that’s more beautiful.

Here’s to you, friend. Do what you love.

space (noun)

Space (n): the freedom and scope to live, think, and develop in a way that suits one.

When I looked up the various definitions for the word space, I was pleasantly surprised to find the definition above. I wasn’t expecting to find such a perfect description for my thoughts in a dictionary.

I’ve been struggling lately (and by lately I mean for months on end) to find physical space and headspace where I am so totally at ease that I can relax and create. It’s like I have a mental wall to protect myself from outside forces, which sadly also smothers my imagination. Seemingly, my mental defenses are on high alert and they will not let me vacate the safety bunker until the “all clear” signal has sounded.

For example, today I did everything I could to keep busy, so I could prevent my own self from sitting down and writing this post. I listened to my audio book, drank my coffee (slowly), paid bills, and checked on the laundry at least three times (knowing full well the clothes weren’t dry yet).

Even as I sit at my desk typing these words, I am fidgeting and my thoughts are telling me that this is terrible and I should just stop now before I end up posting this and then crying from embarrassment.

Creating is hard. Developing and growing a personal, unique voice is not safe. Critique and ridicule are terrifying but inevitable if the final product is placed where other humans can consume it.

As you’re reading these words, I am obsessively thinking about them and about your interpretation of them, hoping your reaction is positive.

You see, I am made to write, and my deepest wish is to write in a way that reaches others on a personal, positive level. I cannot do that if my readers don’t like what I write, so I struggle with the fear that I won’t be good enough. My mind repeats my fears internally in a self-destructive cycle.

That is why I am struggling with headspace. I want space to think and develop my writing voice. I cannot do this without turning off the depressive and critical thoughts.

Since my thoughts follow me wherever I go, then by default no space feels safe either. My internal criticisms seem to leak out and expand into whatever space I am filling at the time.

I am tired of it. I am tired of being scared of my biggest dreams and greatest calling. I am tired of being afraid of my own creative mind. I am tired of being at war with my own self – wanting so desperately to write, but being so terribly afraid of what I will create and how it will be received.

So, today I’m done. I am done letting my fear rule my life. Today is the day I start letting go. It will take time, but I am determined to make it happen. It may take months or years, but I vow now to be in this for the long haul.

I vow to fight my own demons.

I vow to share my creations – to let them, instead of the fear, inhabit the space in and around me.

In the future, it is my vow to write more and worry less.

And you, dear reader, are my witness to this vow.

And maybe, hopefully, you can make a vow of your own. I know I’m not the only one plagued by my own fears. Maybe it’s time you thought about what you’re afraid of doing. I’m not encouraging any rash decisions, but I am encouraging you to get to know your own mind and figure out how it thinks.

When the time comes, I encourage you to start fighting your own fears.

Here’s to you, friend. Do what you love.