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.