Creativity

I spent most of my time on my blog discussing writing. That’s most likely because it’s on my mind so often. But I realize that may get a bit boring, so I thought I’d just ramble about general creativeness today. The pros and the cons. 

Creative people are usually the “weird” people. In my previous post, I already looked at our (and by our, I mean the general opinion that is shoved down our throats from an early age by all forms of media) idea of what normal people should look like and act like. Creative people are usually the opposite of that. 

Now, I say that in general, but I can only speak for the creative people that I know – namely myself – but this seemed to reflect some of my friends growing up as well. So to avoid any generalisms or stereotyping or whatever overly PC people want to accuse me of, I will speak only of myself from here on out. 

As an only child, I learned early on how to entertain myself. I sang to myself, talked to myself (or my pets or stuffed animals or dolls. . .even inanimate objects come to think of it) and I generally answered myself (and those items) as well. I read lots of books. I started writing stories at an early age. I believe one of my first stories was about a broken off piece of pencil lead that got picked up by an eagle or hawk or some other large bird. My teacher looked at me –whether that was in awe or horror, I don’t know, I was a mere first grader – and asked me where I managed to come up with these strange ideas. 

Being creative wasn’t too much of a problem in elementary school. We all had our quirks and were fairly accepting of one another. Junior high changed everything. Suddenly I was no longer unique and instead just became weird. Even in a Christian school with a small group of students – I think there was only fifteen or so of us – it was very obvious that I didn’t fit in. Kids were nice when they had to be, but my name soon dropped off party invitation lists because I listened to weird music and watched weird (and heathen) movies. When you go to a Christian school, The Nightmare Before Christmas is considered a heathen movie and several of my classmates were convinced I was going to hell because I watched that movie. 

High school mellowed out a bit, but all the boys I dated or “went out with” didn’t understand my taste in music or movies. Nor did they care about my desire to write. While my parents encouraged creativity, they did not encourage my aspiration to be an author. It was too hard and unrealistic. I appreciate their perspective now. If they hadn’t pushed me to complete my college degree, my life would have been a lot harder when my first marriage fell apart. And now that I’m a parent, I understand their perspective even more. I want my son to have goals, dreams, and aspirations, but I also want him to have a back up plan – or two. 

But I’ve gotten off track. 

Creativity. Mine seems to strike at night. Until I became pregnant, sleep was rarely necessary. I snuck flashlights into bed as a child to read and write because that’s when I got ideas. These ideas kept me from sleeping. As I got older, I would sneak out of bed and sit in front of the computer late into the night (as I’m doing now). Even if I’m almost asleep, a mere thought or question can spiral into a new chapter or a blog. . .regardless of my intention, the thought will continue to circle my mind until I allow it to escape onto paper. 

There are other side effects as well. I’m constantly in the midst of some household project. Right now it’s remodeling our bathroom. But I can’t even finish that project before I have ideas for the kitchen or my son’s room. Or outside. It’s a never ending cycle. My poor husband just shakes his head and tells me to make a list. I’m lucky that he humors me most of the time. 

Then there are the times when I suddenly get lost in my thoughts – it can be sitting at my computer, sitting in the rocking chair in my son’s room, or even at the grocery store. Then suddenly I look up, realize that it’s ten minutes later, and some woman is pissed off at me because she thinks I was staring at her and giving her dirty looks across the store aisle. It’s a bit hard to explain that no, actually you were galaxies away in world that exists solely within your mind. 

My creativity doesn’t always think in terms of books. I get excited over the simplest of things. I remember one specific instance that a thought crossed my mind as a child. I was in bed for the evening and I’m fairly confident it was during summer vacation. I had an idea for a funny poem “Spring is green. Spring is lovely. Spring is feeding your pet toad with hormones.” Or something to that effect. Now, I thought it was hilarious. And I laughed so hard that I eventually had to confess to my mother what I was doing. I was completely devastated when she looked at me, without even a hint of a smile on her face, and told me that everyone had hormones. 

Another side effect of being creative, at least for me, is that I remember each and every hurtful word, action, and embarrassment directed at me. It reads like a movie script in my mind. Most of it I’ve been unable to let go. It’s not that I’m holding grudges, but I keep them as reminders of little pieces of my innocence that were lost. The first time one of my “friends” drew a picture of me, her, and another one of our friends and write “Best Friends” at the top of the page, then showed it to me, then drew an “X” through me. She thought it was funny. It broke my heart. Or the people who have told me that my interests are stupid and less important than theirs. 

It’s all there, tucked away in my mind. But I know I’m not unique in that sense. Everyone has that list of hurts. It probably isn’t just creative people. But I think it affects us a little more than it does non-creative people. We carry it into our work, our worlds, our characters, and our self esteem (in many cases). Or maybe that’s just my imagination. 

My husband has this amazing gift of letting words roll off of his shoulders. He’s so sure of himself and secure in his talents, personality, and character. And he does it without being egotistical. He just has a good handle on his self esteem and self worth. He can write a paragraph, then create an entire website promoting that single paragraph like it’s the greatest set of words ever put into print. I wrote a book. A four hundred and ninety page book. And when my husband’s friends ask me about it, all I can say is “Oh, you probably wouldn’t like it. Really. Don’t bother. It’s for young adult girls. It’s probably not any good anyway. It’s just, you know, for fun. To say I did. No big deal.” 

I wrote one query letter to a publishing agent. It was a laughable attempt. I’m worthless when it comes to promoting my own work. 

I have once again strayed off my path. The truth of the matter is, creativity is both a blessing and a curse. When you’re creative, the whole world is beautiful and full of potential. You see every situation for its uniqueness and radiance. But the “weird” label sticks with you for life. 

The good news is, with Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Goodreads and other media sites, we’re now capable of finding kindred spirits. We can find people who share in our particular brand of weirdness. So thank God for that. Even if we’re few and far between, there’s more than one of us out there. Even if we’re not close friends, it’s nice knowing that someone else out there is kinda like me. And if they can be proud of who they are, then I can figure out a way to be as well. 

This is more personal than I intended to get, but I get tired of holding back. And let’s be honest. I’m a writer. All of the above could simply be made up.

photo credit: PRAVEEN VENUGOPAL via photopin cc