The Courage to Create

Photo Credit: Dan Newton*

Two of my friends, who are completely unrelated and don’t even know each other, both happened to write me lovely letters this past weekend saying that they had visited this humble blog and enjoyed my posts and writing.

I can’t tell you how awesome it was to get such wonderful feedback from people that I admire and appreciate in real life. (That’s not to imply that I’m not thankful for my fellow internet bloggers and followers. I appreciate you, too!)

To be honest, I didn’t even think my friends knew about this blog, or thought to click on the few links I’ve put out there. I kind of just operate under the assumption that nobody is going to read what I write. I think it makes it simpler, actually.

It’s so easy to fall into the trap that whatever I’m saying, whatever I’m doing, or whatever I’m thinking has all been done before; so why bother? The only way for me to get over that self-doubt hump is to remember that I’m writing for myself, first. Even if nobody ever reads this. Even if everybody else thinks it’s tripe.

Writing is really more of a compulsion for me. It’s just something I’ve always done. I have a box full of journals dating back from the time I was in sixth grade somewhere in my basement. Sure, I’d move away from it- sometimes for long stretches at a time- but it’s one of the few things that I keep coming back to.

I assure you, there are no illusions of grandeur with my writing. In response to one of my friends, I mentioned that I might be able to write a decent anecdote, but I’ve hated every novel I’ve ever attempted. I think I’m just trying to find my story. You know, the one I am meant to tell? I haven’t found it, yet, but I can’t seem to stop looking.

No, there may not be any illusions, but of course I do have a few hopes. I mean, really, doesn’t everybody secretly wish they’d be discovered doing something they love and have someone come along, swoop them up and say, “Please! Let me throw loads of money at you and finance a lifestyle that allows you to do everything you’ve always wanted!”

What struck me was that both letters referenced how personal I’ve been in my blog. And, it’s true. Considering I’ve shared my love story, my thoughts of infertility and being child-free, and my frustrations with trying to communicate with whole branches of my family, it has been personal.

There’s a sense of exposure and vulnerability when creating something; whether through music, art, comedy, or writing. I think the act of trying to make something out of nothing; something honest, worthwhile and that you can feel proud about, is an exercise in faith and humility. If you can be truthful and genuine with yourself, and through your craft, then you have a chance to actually resonate with someone else.

I recently left a comment on a fellow blogger’s site. Kate Katharina had written a really great post entitled, “Three Ideas That Have Changed The Way I Think” in which her first idea was “Creativity Is Not What You Think It Is.”

She mentions that creativity is not necessarily about being “original” so much as being authentic. In essence, you don’t have to come up with a completely different language in order to be creative at writing. It’s HOW you’ve put your words together that make them unique.

The best things I’ve come across have always been the ones that speak to me. Where I can say, “Yes! That’s exactly it! I completely relate to that, or can see where you’re coming from. Wow, thank you for putting it just that way.”

It doesn’t really matter what the medium is. I’ve heard music that does that to me. I’ve looked at paintings and thought, “I’ve seen the light hit a tree like that and never realized just how beautiful it was.” I’ve walked down a street, rounded a corner, and been struck by a wall of graffiti and thought, “Keep screaming! Keep fighting! I hear you!”

One of the things that I’ve continued to think about from the most recent book I read, American Gods, is a passage from Mr. Ibis that reads:

“We are insulated (a word that means, literally, made into an island) from the tragedy of others, by our island nature, and by the repetitive shape and form of the stories. The shape does not change: there was a human being, who was born, lived, and then, by some means or another, died. There. You may fill in the details from your own experience. As unoriginal as any other tale, as unique as any other life.” (My emphasis.)

Have you ever looked up and gazed at a night sky full of stars and felt humbled by just how vast and awesome the entire universe is? Did it ever make you so incredibly aware of how truly small you were in the grand scheme of things, and wonder what you could possibly do that was different or impactful in any way?

Then, in that exact same moment of realization, did you recognize the fact that out of all of that space and enormity, out of all of those stars…there was nothing, absolutely nothing, that was exactly as you were- right then, in that moment?

There is a saying that we are not all unique snowflakes, but we are. The challenge is knowing that everybody else is, too. The difficulty lies in being able to respect and appreciate the similarities and differences in each other, while still being able to celebrate your own specific contributions and sense of self.

I swear, I’m not trying to sound like a cheesy self-help book! I’m guessing my friends will be wondering how the heck I got to these thoughts from their simple letters of support and kindness.

To be honest, I’m not entirely sure how I happened to get here, either. That is to say, I guess these kinds of thoughts are always sort of floating around in my mind at any given moment. Somehow, they grant me the courage to keep creating.

At least now I have a blog to write them all down in! Thanks for reading.

*The photo included in this post is copyrighted by Dan Newton. I highly recommend you check out his gallery and blog, Liquid In Plastic!


6 comments on “The Courage to Create

  1. Janyaa reading your blog has inspired me to create more topics. I love the way you write! Your writing style is very soft, personal and honest!

  2. Brilliant post! You’ve conveyed your ideas so gently and comprehensibly. If it’s a novel you want to write, I believe it will unfurl when you least expect it. You will put pen to paper thinking you are writing a letter or a speech or a memoir and sometime you’ll realise that it’s the story you’ve always wanted to write. Keep up your wonderful writing.

    • Janyaa says:

      Thank you for the encouragement, Kate. I do think I’d like to write a novel at some point. It’s the topic or storyline that I’m having a hard time with (kind of an integral part, I would think…)

      To be honest, I suspect that I’m probably more of an editor than I am an author. Arranging words and thoughts, checking for mishaps, constantly re-tooling what’s been written…all of that seems to come much more naturally for me.

      For example, I’ll probably come back to this post over two dozen times and tweak a word here and there…even after everybody has stopped reading it!

  3. […] learned is that you can’t rely too heavily on what other people think of you. I’ve mentioned before that writing and being creative can put a person in a very vulnerable place. There’s a sense […]

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