Sometimes it is hard being creative.
I know that sounds odd. The implication being that creativeness is at times a burden, but it would be a lie to say she isn't. For as freeing and calming as she can be, she is also a tempestuous bitch who refuses to be ignored and has a thirst that refuses to be quenched. She is demanding and cruel, callous and flippant. This whole writing business is a roller coaster ride. And yes, that is a cliché, but for good reason. Each and every day I am whipped through peaks and valleys, both my own and others.
One friend is telling me the great feedback she got from a contest and the other has wrapped herself into a broody tizzy over her lack of putting words on virtual paper. It's almost like manic depression. Incredible highs, the lowest of lows, and this eerie calm in between. Is being creative like a mental illness? We cannot deny how many artists, writers and musicians struggle with depression, mania, drugs and through it all there is still an irrefutable desire to create something amazing. To get the ideas out of their heads. Can people be driven mad by their imaginations?
Lately, I've noticed a definite battle existing in the creative types I rub shoulders with. They want to stay true to their art and they understand it makes no sense to put pressure on themselves, but they still stress and toil and fret over what is essentially beyond their control. Even though there is no point, we catalogue what we are doing, compare it to others and hum and haw over the quality and quantity of the work we are producing.
And it seems to be we are very rarely content.
Is this the curse of the creatives?
To constantly pine and worry and struggle to create something we are happy with, something the world can be happy with? Because it really is a vicious cycle. Even when we create something we love, that love shifts over time. I look at it like a bottle of water with a hole in the bottom. Except, instead of water, our bottles are being filled with creative awesomeness. No matter how much we invent, or pen, or draw, or draft, or edit, we are constantly thinking of what's next. New ideas spring forth. We are always trying to fill our creative bottle. And I am beginning to wonder, will we ever be satisfied?
Now, I know this isn't everyone. And when I say, will we ever be satisfied? I am really asking, will I ever be satisfied? Or will my good friends who I see sword fighting the dragon of disenchantment day after day ever be satisfied?
First, I think a lot of the creatives I know are really hard on themselves. And I know for a fact I am extremely hard on myself. Last month I felt like I was going stir crazy because I wasn't writing a novel. I set myself this goal that I had to complete editing From The Fallen before I started writing a new book. (I'm not finished editing.) It was driving me mental. It really was. And yet, I did write nearly fifty thousand words in short stories.Not to mention, I read a bucket load of work by other people and tried to offer help, though I don't know how helpful I was in the end. Still, I wasn't satisfied, because I didn't have something bigger on the go.
The point being, even though I was creating, editing, helping others, I was still unsatisfied. And I have to admit, there is always a hint of being dissatisfied inside me. Is it because I hate my work? No. Is it because I am being lazy? No. Is it because I think other people are more talented? Not necessarily, though many are.
It is because I think I can do better. I want to do better. I want to learn, grow, spread my wings and fly and all that other crap people always talk about when they discuss bettering themselves. But, and here is the but, not everyone is like me. Or us, if you, yourself, is a creative. It's almost as though we hold ourselves to a different standard, that it is hard to please ourselves.
And then there is a moment where we sit back and think, "What's the point?"
Of course, that is a loaded question. The point, for me at least, is that I have to create and write and be creative because it is essentially who I am. If I didn't do it, who would I be? Though it doesn't define me it is a key part of my personality and life. It fills me up. It is my purpose.
It is so easy to simply say, don't be negative, keep positive and don't worry. But every so often it is completely impossible to do just that. Sometimes the road seems long. And it is exhausting to constantly be crafting, thinking, brainstorming, mulling. How does one simply relax into life when their brain never shuts off?
If I could stomp the little demon of doubt to death, I would. But I can't. All I can do is try to offer up words of encouragement to other creatives I see struggling along this road. We should find solace in knowing we are not alone, except this is a very solitary business we are in. So it is a bit strange. Still, we hope no one else ever feels the crushing disappointment that rears its ugly head from time-to-time. And honestly, I think this is often out of our hands. It's just an unaccounted for dip in the roller coaster ride and all we can do is hang on and hope we aren't tossed out of the cart. But it still sucks seeing people I care about upset over something they cannot control. And, even more so, being disillusioned with what I myself am doing.
That said, we write books. And that's pretty fucking cool.