I love reading and writing about the creative process because it’s amazing chaotic contradiction of emotions, experiences, skills, and risk. It fascinates me that humans, born to create, struggle to do so. The root cause, of course, has to be that we cannot, like our Maker, create perfection but only a reasonable facsimile of what we can dream up. God speaks it and there is a universe of infinite stars, a platypus, a whale, a person – what could be more satisfying than producing exactly what you imagine? We crave creation.
A young woman who attends our local writers group expressed the dilemma perfectly, “I can see it in my head; I just can’t get it down on paper the way it looks in my mind.” Mind you, this is from a writer whose prose I experience as so vividly descriptive that if it were more so, it would be too much for my brain to absorb. But I can relate because I remember saying the same thing to myself when trying illustrate – I can see the image perfectly in my mind – why can’t I recreate it to my satisfaction?
Are we doomed to lifelong dissatisfaction with our creations? That’s possible. As a young student I had an unreasonable expectation of what my style should be and when I didn’t succeed at portraying that style my confidence plummeted. I was less than. As a professional in my 20s, I began to realize that the true style I excelled at was acceptable and my comfort level grew with who I was as an artist, but I stopped painting and drawing in my 30s because I too busy with babies. Lie. I was perpetually unhappy with my output and decided I’d had enough. I wasn’t good at illustration. My ideas were awesome; my execution was less than.
Creating in a community has altered my perspective. As an art teacher I saw that young children create with joy. They don’t care what others are doing or compare their work. They say ‘wow, that’s awesome’ instead of ‘I wish I’d have created that.’ That joy is dampened sometime during elementary school when they begin to believe that some people are creative and some are not.
As adults, we express, verbally or not, ‘I wish I was a good as…’ or ‘I’ll never be that good…’ With writers, I hear them say they aren’t as good someone else at description or dialogue, but since I’ve been writing the most poignant thing that I’ve learned is that no one writes like anyone else and comparative words like good or better are useless. If your words bring your fictional world or your ideas (like a blog or article) to life, then they are just right for the piece that you’ve done.
Community should produce inspiration, not comparison, but the level of inspiration is determined by how we choose to internalize the experience. I find inspiration from my writing group, the Sussex Bards, by seeing how each individual expresses themselves differently and appreciating them. No comparisons. I cannot be Stephen King or Joyce Carol Oates but I can find joy in others’ creations. This inspiration compels me to pour more of myself into the work – which is imperfect and perfectly me.
I may not be able to recreate perfectly what’s in my imagination but I don’t evaluate my work anymore on the basis of good or bad, right or wrong anymore. I ask – does it say when I want it to say effectively and genuinely in my voice? (or, if fiction, in the voice of my characters.) Judging the success of a piece is primarily based on whether or not, it has evoked a response (positive or negative) from the intended audience. Satisfaction quotient for the process now? Very high.
Each day is like a sketch for the final draft. Picasso didn’t paint a masterpiece every day. Joyce Carol Oates doesn’t write a novel every day. Every word we write, every brushstroke or chord played is part of a larger more authentic expression of the journey of joyful creation.
Create joyfully today!
© 2013 Carolyn Moore