I’m currently reading This Shared Dream, by Kathleen Ann Goonan, the sequel to her marvelous science fiction novel In War Times. This Shared Dream proceeds more slowly than In War Times. It needs to, with many viewpoint characters and subplots, and especially because it gives the reader so much to think about. I was reading a section last night that got me thinking about why I write. There are many facile answers to the question of why one writes. The chapter of This Shared Dream I was reading was not about writing but about art, and about how the character allows her long-suppressed artistic talent to reawaken and through painting discovers hidden memories and parts of herself that had long been locked deep within her
It made me think about creativity in general and about freeing our creative self, whether it be through painting, sculpting, writing fiction, performing and/or composing music, or something else. There is such a wide range of creative activities that I firmly believe that everyone is creative in some way. The sad thing is that some people never discover and explore their creativity. That doesn’t mean that they don’t accomplish anything. They may be very successful in a career, may be active in community organizations, may lead productive lives. Nothing wrong with that. Many careers are built on creative endeavors. Many community activists are using their creativity in that work. But there are those who go through life never building on that spark of creativity that is hidden within them, begging to be let out but suppressed by all the “busyness” of daily life, always sensing that something is missing but never exploring deeply enough to discover what that something is and what to do about it.
Yet, as Goonan portrays in her novel, giving full rein to that creativity can unlock a hidden part of ourselves. When writers write, when artists paint, when composers produce beautiful melodies, they are drawing forth these things from a font deep within them. It’s somewhat akin to opening Pandora’s box. All sorts of things come out of it. All those crazy ideas that readers wonder how we got. Things that work when we play around with them and things that eventually get discarded as unworkable.
I write because I get a deep satisfaction from unlocking that box and letting the ideas flow out, to be put together in some sort of pleasing arrangement. I suspect that people whose area of creativity is very different from mine get that same sort of satisfaction, of drawing on the very depths of one’s being to produce a work of art of some sort.
This may be especially true of writers because we get to create worlds and populate them, to explore our characters’ psyches, to build bridges to other times and places, to depict horrors and plot paths to happiness.
Then again, I may be prejudiced because I’m a writer. I suspect that any creative person can talk about the ideas she derives from many sources but that sprout ultimately from the depth of her being.
People like Lynn Burr, who creates beautiful handcrafted Santas, collectibles that anyone would love to own. Visit her website, http://www.snowflakebay.com/ and you’ll see a wide assortment of Santa dolls, each one unique and all absolutely beautiful.
I could list many more among my personal acquaintances who express marvelous creativity in many different ways. Ultimately, I believe it doesn’t matter what it is that a person’s creativity produces, but how the creator latches on to that creativity to explore and structure his world. It takes courage, a willingness to expose at least to oneself things hidden deep within. The reward is great, not necessarily or even often in a monetary sense, but in the personal satisfaction one receives by finding completion as the creative process.