Hello Creativity My Old Friend
I used to be a crafty, creative person. Decades before Pinterest existed, I fucking was the Pinterest. I used to make Christmas sweatshirts with iron on fabrics and puff paint. I painted wooden perpetual calendars and I was Modpodging the fuck out of the craft stores well before people knew what Modpodge was. I decorated pseudo-Keds to match our school colors and people begged for me to make them things.
I made mixed tapes that were declared “the road trip tapes.”
I made amazing birthday cookies and cupcakes and threw unbelievable birthday parties with nary a Pinterest on the horizon.
And then I went from it being just me to being me with one daughter, to me with a husband and a daughter, to me with a husband, a daughter and two boys. I went from being in school to having four jobs.
And somewhere I stopped being creative. Because fuck if life just isn’t busy. Right?
A few months ago, I attended a staff development session in which the gal talked about creativity. She had given us those fun coloring pages and markers and for forty-five minutes, we all colored while she talked about creativity and how I needed to get off my fucking ass and create shit again.
Okay, so she didn’t say those words at all, my goodness, it was a staff development session after all. Regardless, that’s what I heard.
I’d forgotten how good it feels to make something. To create something unique and know that I did that. Something to be proud of.
Even just the tiniest bit. Like a coloring page. Sure it’s therapeutic and all, but it’s also the pride in having created something.
And I decided it was time to do that again.
Only not damned mixed tapes or with puff paint.
I wrote a story. From start to finish.
And just yesterday, I submitted it to a publisher.
I’ve been writing forever, but have never finished anything, nor ever published anything. In fact, on my bucket list that we made in high school, “having a book published” is on that list (next to “attend a costume ball as Scarlett O’Hara” but hey, not all dreams come true).
Up until a few weeks ago, I was content to let SMM cross that off my bucket list because it’s almost the same thing, right?
And then I stumbled over an open call for submissions for a Christmas anthology of short stories.
I read the guidelines. I thought of the stories in my head. And I just knew one of those stories would work.
So I wrote.
And it was painful, I won’t lie. Creativity doesn’t always flow easily. I deleted and backspaced over and over. I shut down entire documents without saving them. I rewrote from three different points of view until I found the voice I needed. I proverbially stumbled again and again.
I kept writing. Before work, before kids woke up. I edited. I rewrote. On lunch hours and after kids went to bed. I saved it as a pdf so I could read it on my phone for a different, and so very literal, viewpoint and I took notes on fucking Post Its. Over and over.
And for every “fuck this” growled, there was a more powerful “look at what you’re making” whispered.
And then I was finally done.
No, I’m not going to tell you what the story is about, nor am I telling you which publisher it is. But I will tell you that I am one hundred percent certain it will be rejected. And that somewhere between a rewrite and the Post Its, I realized I am one hundred percent okay with that.
Because this wasn’t about the win. This was about creating something to be proud of, being able to say “I fucking did that.” It was about how the process made me feel, which was damned proud that I made something. I created something worthy of being submitted for publication, in my eyes. Which, really, is all that counts, right?
I had a purpose, a somewhat daily purpose, that made me feel good. Even when the “fuck this” threatened to drown out the “look what you’re making.” I had something each day, even though it was secret and privately just mine, gave me something to think about, look forward to, play with.
It made me fucking happy, in a place disconnected from family and work duties and accomplishments. I can be damned happy and proud that I got all the laundry done (that happened, like once, and I’m not even sure it counts because isn’t there ALWAYS laundry hiding somewhere?), but this emotion? This happy? This happy emotion is different.
The gal who ran that staff development meeting said something about creativity firing up a different sector of your brain and that sector then connecting to the release of dopamines. I’ve not Googled that tidbit to see if it’s true. Maybe she was just bullshitting her way through leading a session, but I am here to tell you…there’s at least a grain of truth in it.
Go be creative again. You won’t regret it.