Friday, November 13, 2015

"Your Elusive Creative Genius"

It is week 2 of Nanowrimo and this is the key time in the challenge of writing a novel in a month. Everything I've heard and read said to be careful this week and just keep writing, no matter how much you want to give up.

I've been so excited about this project and my decision to really do it, to put in the work and be a writer. Because of that passion, I haven't even considered giving up, but I have been dealing with the naysayers of this craft.

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I talked to my incredibly supportive husband about my doubts in a career of writing, mostly my crippling fear of failing or producing nothing of worth or value. He asked who doubted me. That made me stop for a moment. Everyone I talk to are extremely supportive about my decision to write. Some even go so far as to check in with me about how my Nanowrimo challenge is going this month and about my novel in general.

It took me a few minutes to realize that the only naysayer in the situation was myself and possibly society as a whole for its view of artists, writers and the creative lifestyle in general. Stephen said he couldn't really be mad a me for doubting myself and I had to concur. I realized that I would have to change my own way of thinking...have I even mentioned how impossibly difficult that is to do?

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As luck, or perhaps the great cosmic influence, would have it, I found my answer in a seemingly inconsequential decision to watch a TED talk about "Your Elusive Creative Genius" by Elizabeth Gilbert author of New York Times Bestseller Eat, Pray, Love.

In her speech, she talks of this anomaly the Greek and Roman creative minds had attached to their talent. They had what the Greeks called a daemon, a being that contained the same nature as both god and mortal. In Roman culture the word for daemon was "genius."  The genius provided a distance between an artist's art and his or her ego. For example, if a creation failed, it meant his genius hadn't stimulated him enough. On the other hand, if a creation took off to become immortal art, then the artist couldn't take full credit because his or her genius had bolstered him. However, how do you keep creating art or ideas when you know that your best idea may be behind you? With a daemon, at least you still had a sort of collaboration with this being of inspiration that kept you grounded and continuing to work and create for yourself and to share with others. But what would happened if that daemon stopped showing up as well?

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As the Age of Reason began to emerge out of the Renaissance, the idea of having a genius was lost and a man or woman was determined to be a genius, which put enormous amounts of pressure on a one fragile human soul. For many that was too much to take; there have been countless cases of artists of every medium to become insane and even take their own lives. Society, over hundreds of years, has thrust the idea that the arts and a creative lifestyle is an insane, irrational crusade. 

Gilbert's TED Talk is incredibly interesting and I would encourage you to watch it in its entirety on YouTube :
"Your Elusive Creative Genius" 
by Elizabeth Gilbert 

So what now? My passion has always been writing, reading, collecting quotations, and having an appreciation for all forms of art. However, society tells me that if I pursue this course I will end up irrational, poor and broken. That's not something very nice to fall asleep to at night. However, neither is the grind that comes from working a job that seeps the joy from my soul. Talk about a rock and a hard place...

This is the point where I have to make a decision about my life. Am I going to conform to society's interpretation of the arts? Or am I going to be brave and step out into the unknown to live a creative life full of passion and joy. It won't erase the heartache or the bad days, but those irrational, emotional pieces of art are truly valuable to society and the human psyche as a whole.

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I've never wanted to be a genius. I've never wanted the pressure to make something remarkable, that is simply too much to bear. However, I want to create something that means something to someone. I want to put my soul into my work and throw it out into the void of human interpretation so that someone, somewhere will feel inspired and loved and understand themselves a little better.

I write for myself, for my own soul. I have written these words so many times now that it almost seems redundant. Writing is how I understand the universe. When I go long periods of time without writing I get anxious, insecure and irritable. I don't really understand it, but writing is a permanent part of my psychological makeup, it is an irreversible part of who I am. When I am true to myself, when I write and share ideas and emotions, I feel better, I feel whole.

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So now I write. I'm writing my novel to try and share a feeling that means a lot to me right now. I want to share the power of love that stands the test of time. Despite societal association with writers and despite my own self doubts, I'm going to show up everyday and work hard on my craft. I want to do it, I want to create this novel and eventually send it out into the world to share something that I believe in.

Yes, that is scary, and if I begin to start talking to my genius for inspiration and revelation, at least you'll know that I'm actually doing it to stay sane and not going crazy...yet.

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