The Uncreative Creative
Sometimes I joke with my sister that I was built with a personality of an artist but lack any artistic capabilities.
Then I went to college and pursued a Communications degree.
My eyes were opened to the world of Creatives. It's a noun, did you know that? It's used to describe an entire group of people these days. If you're one of them it means that you're a creative artist, thinker, leader, or maybe you're just a creative individual. Sounds like a cool group to be identified with, huh? As I took classes more involved within my degree, professors openly referred to me, Madison Vincent, as a creative.
I started thinking of myself as one, but it felt unnatural.
My hand lettering sucks, and I can't water color to save my life. I don't play music, in fact, I can't even carrying a tune. I don't take killer pictures, and my Instagram grid is nothing special. I'm terrible at writing poetry, I dance like Taylor Swift, and I don't knit, or needle point, or weave, or anything else one would buy on Etsy. Even writing, which I love to do and is probably my greatest creative strength, doesn't feel like much of a strength.
So, here I am.
The uncreative, creative.
I watched this Ted Talk a few months ago by Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat, Pray, Love. She presented the idea that we all (even you, if you don't identify yourself as a creative) have an elusive creative genius. She explains how in the times of ancient Rome and Greece they believed creativity was a spirit that came to human beings from an unknowable source. The Greeks referred to these divine spirits of creativity as "daemons." Ms. Gilbert compares them to Dobby, the house elf. Just this little creature that appears out of nothing to come and assist the artist. She goes on to tell these obscure stories of different artists and how they communicated the same type of elusive creative genius. The final thought is that maybe a job of an artist is to just show up, "If your job is to dance, do your dance. If the divine cockeyed genius assigned to your case decides to let some sort of wonderment be glimpsed, for just one moment through your efforts, then "Ole!" And if not, do your dance anyhow. And, "Ole!" nonetheless"
As I watched her, the idea she presented equally captivated me as much as it made me uncomfortable. What if the best pieces of art, the best creative works just came forward out of nothing. It wasn't so much based on a person being a genius as it was the recognition of elusive ideas and jumping on them. This works whether you're a feely artist who only works when you have great captivating ideas, or a workhorse artist who shows up everyday waiting to brush up against that genius. Whatever your process, the idea is, it's not you.
Stephen King explains it so well, "Let's get one thing clear right now, shall we? There is no Idea Dump, no Story Central, no Island of Best Sellers; good story ideas seem to come quite literally from nowhere, sailing at you right out of the empty sky: two previously unrelated ideas come together and make something new under the sun. Your job isn't to find these ideas but to recognize them when they show up." Whatever your creative strength is, when that elusive creative genius shows up, your job is to be prepared for it.
As I was looking for jobs after school in the creative field, I discovered something quickly. There will always be someone with more talent, charisma, or skills than me. For the sake of my self worth, I'm going to have to be ok with that. What that doesn't mean is I have an excuse to quit learning and growing.
Maybe someday I'll be an excellent writer. I will have a stroke of genius, wake up one morning and know what the story it is I'm supposed to tell. Until then, I have to strengthen the muscle, foster the skill, and continue doing something because I enjoy it. When the creative genius shows up with a story worth telling, I want to recognize it.
Yet, if it doesn't, if I'm never given a story to write that is supposed to be shared with the world, it's ok. Stringing words together is my stroke of creativity. Whether I'm brilliant at it or mediocre, it brings me enjoyment and challenges my mind. Writing is something I'll do for the rest of my life regardless of my success.
I have tapestry hanging in my apartment that says, "Be Happy." It was my attempt at lettering, and it wasn't the best. The letters are thick and black, but they're far from perfect. The P's aren't identical, and the words slowly curve up to the right. I could never sell it, nobody but me would ever want to hang it in their home, but it was fun to make.
If none of us write a Best Seller, or make a Platinum Record. If you are like me and sometimes feel like the uncreative creative standing in a sea of exceptionally talented people, it's ok.
At the end, we shouldn't create for fame or recognition, we should create to create. If we fail, if it sucks, we still created it.
So hang up your lopsided tapestry, because creating it brought you life and enjoyment. Continue writing songs. Taking pictures. Dancing. Needle Pointing. Whatever it is.
Some things are meant to show the world wonderment. Those things are amazing and shouldn't be missed. Other things are made for you, for your enjoyment, because the process is worth it whether the world ever see's it or not.
Ever felt like a uncreative creative? Done something you loved even though you sucked at it? Or honed a craft waiting for an Elusive Creative Genius to show up?