Friday, March 19, 2010
On Being Creative: Don't Drink the Kool-Aid
One of my fellow authors at Liquid Silver Books, Veronica Wilde, recently posted an entry on the publisher's blog focusing on the art of writing as a creative act. In the entry's intro, she quoted the composer for the score of recent Academy Award-winning animated film Up, who stated in his award acceptance speech, "being creative is not a waste of time.” The posting of these words rang true for me in a way that only fellow creatives could understand.
I don't think that there is a creative soul out there (be it an artist, writer, tattoist, actor, musician, etc.) who has not been hit with the old myth that pursuing a creative career is automatic failure. And unfortunately, many creative types drink this psychological "poisoned Kool-Aid" and never recover from the creative lobotomy that occurs. Their spirits are broken by friends, family, and even other artistic types (those who should have supported their dreams and endeavors) and they resign themselves to lives of mediocrity.
Then there are the stereotypes. The concept that all fine artists and authors are crazy and depressed. All musicians are drug addicts or booze hounds. And all tattooists are dirty sleazebags. All bound to get divorced, or commit suicide, or end up on the street. Wow, I must be a triple whammy! Author, artist, tattooist... forget the fact that I'm happily married to my beautiful best friend. That I work in a tattoo shop where we only use sterilized disposable equipment and consider tattooing a way to enhance people's spiritual and mental health. And that my artworks have been featured in galleries, national publications and on book covers.
Sure, I've struggled with depression. Sure, I've been broker than broke (most of the time, actually!). Sure, I've had my moments where I ask, "Why me?" (that happens a lot in a tattoo apprenticeship, let me tell you!). But don't we all, whether we are creative types or not? I always realize that I have been given a remarkable gift, and even poverty could not take away that passion or drive, that insatiable need.
I recall that Nelson Mandela once said, "When we let our own light shine, we automatically allow others to do the same." We creatives should be carrying the torch. Every time a person says to me, "I have always dreamed of writing a book," I say, "So, why don't you?" Sometimes it's that simple. I want to help others to avoid "drinking the Kool-Aid", to kill that fragile flower before it is able to push its way out of the soil of one's heart.
We all have a light inside of us, whether you are a great artist, teacher, mother, father, or friend--and we have an obligation to let that light shine. Where would our great music, art, novels, architecture, and inventions have come from without those folks who let their light shine?
Make a goal. You want to write that book? Take an hour a day. Get on your laptop and type away. If you go longer than an hour, great. Perfect. Call it a hobby. When you're done, look at what you have written and say, "Hey, this is a pretty good book." Have a few trustworthy friends read it. Sculpt it. Polish it. Pick up a Writer's Market Guide. Send your good book out--believe me, someone out there will want it. You will get rejections--sometimes even hinting that you should "drink the Kool-Aid" (aka give up). We all do. Save those to look at later, when the manuscript reaches the "right person" (and it will). You will be able to gloat. It will feel great.
Nurture your light, your inner blossom, without fear and without despair. It will reward you in ways that you never imagined.