Creativity takes courage.
When I was in elementary school, I wrote a very long short story called “Tina Tuna.” My parents will tell you about this story with pride. They will tell you how witty and imaginative I was, even in fourth grade. My most distinct memories of “Tina Tuna”… I remember the fun I had building my story, the pride of knowing, without a doubt, that I had created something good, and most prominently, the pressure of a deadline. From that moment, I’ve been seeking to create. I’m not saying that I’ve done any remarkable work. My creativity isn’t consistent… I’ve crafted for my classroom, I’ve sang with a chorus and with a worship team, I’ve written a book, I’ve taken photography and pottery classes. The products of my creativity hang on the walls of my parents’ home and sit on bookshelves. The drawing of my name, a bold ALLISON in block lettering featuring a “S” that I fashioned into a slide, has been hanging for so long the construction paper backing is faded almost unrecognizably from navy to gray. My proud (and tiny) attempt at the pottery wheel currently holds change dumped from my husband’s pockets. No one is trying to pay me for my work. But even though I’m not particularly remarkable in my creativity, it is remarkable perhaps that I am creative at all.
What does it mean to create? It means producing something. Somehow, even following a recipe from Pinterest isn’t necessarily as creative as imitative. But sometimes imitation leads one to create. I felt that way when I wrote a book for NaNoWriMo. I had an idea for a romance novel rattling around in my head for a few months, after feeling disappointed in many of the fluffy romances I had been reading. So I started building a character I would love to see in print, started imagining a situation to place her in, started envisioning scenarios and plot points. But imagining, while important, isn’t creating. Creating is the hard, dirty, sometimes (literally and figuratively) painful work of putting imagination into production. I wish creating was easier, or it wouldn’t have taken me so long to write a book. Creating means staying up nights because you can’t sleep until a thought is perfectly articulated on paper; it means walking around with a claw hand from the typing-induced wrist cramps. It means crushing disappointment when you realize that while you LOVE your work, others might not feel the same way.
To create is an important counterpoint to consumption. I certainly excel at consumption: my current entertainment obsession? Watching YouTube videos from people, real people, who love make up or organization or being snarky and are compelled to create content about stuff that they love. It would be so tempting to simply consume. Easier certainly. But I see the effects of consumption in my classroom: my students are so accustomed to consumption that they HATE to produce with any kind of creativity. They would much rather watch Vines and scroll an Instagram feed than create something MORE. I get it. It is humbling to put more than 10 seconds worth of effort into something to then allow other to judge and critique. But when we only consume, we fail to be everything that we can be. We miss opportunities to figure ourselves out. Or to realize that it isn’t possible to figure ourselves out after all.
So even though I’m not a Pinterest-worthy crafter or best selling author, I’m going to create anyway. Right now, my outlet is this blog. In July (or November), I hope it will be another novel. I’ve even thought about glass blowing.
How are you creating this week? This month? Are you consistently creative?