I have to admit that lately my faith is like shifting sand, changed by the wind. I’m treading water just to keep from sinking. You’ll have noticed that I’ve not been around here much. Work has been extremely taxing, and I’m really fighting with my sleep apnea of late. The long and short of it is that, yes, fatigue colors one’s outlook. What was once a bright and rosy world, full of vivid colors and subtle shades of pastels is now much more drab, grainy, washed out. It’s like going from HD to the kinescope of the 50s. It’s a low res world for me at the moment, and I find myself easily distracted. Carried away by the flotsam and jetsom which crosses my path. You’ll have likely seen the following somewhere online; it describes my world now:
Unable to quite focus the work I want to do, I need to do, I’ve been tinkering with wireless routers, breaking (and fixing) my Kindle, and watching entirely too much TV. I don’t quite know how to get off of this crazy train, but would appreciate your prayers.
Like the popular Taylor Swift song, Blank Space, things have been quiet around here. Time was I enjoyed writing something everyday, but somewhere along the way lost the joy of it.
I forgot that the work was its own reward. It’s not about the comments, or the shares, the social media interactions, or the stats.
It’s about the work.
The sheer joy of creating something which yesterday did not exist. In Tolkien’s phrase, we are “sub-creators”–we create because we are made in the image of a creative God. He didn’t create for applause, but rather because it is his nature to do so. What do you think he meant in declaring creation “good?” Doing the work gave him, the most self-fulfilling being, immense pleasure.
That should be a clue to those of us who are compelled to create works of art (whatever form those works take). Don’t get get sidetracked by applause, acclaim, by being known–keep working, keep creating. It’s not about the glory, but about making the best art we can, and finding joy in the doing.
The work is its own reward. Let’s not forget this.
Towards the end of the classic movie, Princess Bride, there is a scene where Westley–recently resurrected–bluffs his way through a confrontation with the the evil Prince Humperdinck. He threatens a duel–not to the death, but “to the pain.” To my mind, this is what we who call ourselves creative must do with the “Resistance.” We must wrestle it to the pain, through the pain, to get to the work we were made to do.
You say you are not creative? I don’t believe you. Bestselling author Tosca Lee says, “We are made in the image of the most creative being in the universe… But we allow things to get in the way.”
Things such as the resistance.
What is the the resistance? Whatever gets in our way. Whatever fears, doubts, messages, which assail us, and keep us from creating. You already know this, but it bears repeating:
No one else in this world of seven billion souls has the same well of experiences from which to draw. No one else has your unique perspective and voice.
Because no one else is you!
And you can do it! We need your voice. I need your voice.
Because it helps me to know that I am not alone, not crazy, in the pursuit of my dream.
Now: create your hearts out, write until your fingers bleed, your heart bleeds, your arms ache from sculpting, painting… And then do it some more! Cast off the fetters which restrain you from doing the creating you really want to do, feel called to do.
When you do that, the magic happens–because honoring the gift, whatever it is, honors the ONE Who gave it to you.
Create through the pain, past the pain, and get up tomorrow, and do it again. Because the resistance is not going away. But like Prince Humperdinck, we can threaten it into submission, quell its voice, and get down to work. The resistance does not fear getting ugly with you, so be ruthless in conquering it. Because you will find that it is, afterall, just a bully.
And like most bullies, the resistance is really a coward at heart.
So resist the resistance.
And do it one day at a time. Because that’s all we have to work with: one day at a time. Your courage, in the face of your fears, encourages not only me, but everyone watching.
>All art–whether written, spoken, painted, acted–is borne of a desire to create. To make something out of, essentially, nothing. Why do we creative types do this? What is our motivation?
We do it for ourselves. We do it because we have to. We create for an audience of one. (In this way, how more like God can we be? Who also created for an audience of one: Himself).
Don’t get me wrong: sharing our work is an eventual part of the process, but it can’t be the primary motivation. The artist must work for the art’s sake–work for the work’s sake–first.
It must be about challenging oneself to make the absolute best art one possibly can, else where is the “artistic integrity?”
Take, for instance, this blog: do I write for you, or for me? I write for me–because I have to. I’m compelled to exercise that part of my brain. I’m creating my art on my terms in a way that makes sense to me. I’m creating for an audience of one.
It’s not about comments, or money, but rather about love. Oh, there’s nothing wrong with being paid for our work, but if that’s the primary motivation, we’re monkeys. Love the work–the rest will take care of itself.