Thursday, April 16, 2009

Creativity and Vulnerability


By nature, artists are sensitive. It’s this same sensitivity that allows us to bare our souls for the sake of creativity. When we write (create), it is our ability to feel deeply the emotions of our characters and put them into words that allows our readers to feel deeply too. We pour our souls into our work. We become vulnerable to others. Sometimes when we write, we feel completely drained because we have put every last ounce of energy and emotion into our work. I have had to take breaks from writing my novel at times because something that happened to my characters would drain me. I would find myself in tears, depressed, drained, and unable to give anymore of myself to anyone.

I have protected my novel like it’s a child. I am making myself vulnerable to those that read it. It’s leaving me open to hurt and pain. It’s frightening. I think we all feel this way to a certain extent. I also realize that we have to find the courage to make ourselves vulnerable to others. We have to find the courage to send our babies out to the world and risk rejection, hurt, and pain. We have to take this risk to be successful, to publish, and to grow as writers and as people.

We, the people who feel so deeply that we are able to create something beautiful - a book, a picture, a painting, a movie- have to be strong in the face of rejection. It’s a dichotomy. I suppose some people manage to marry the two, or they are pretty good at faking it. Look at all of the artists throughout the ages who suffered for their art. We call them tortured souls, but they were just like us.

It helps me to think that we are all in this together. We will all make ourselves vulnerable, and we will all face rejection. We are the ones who feel deeply, which I believe is a gift. There is not a single writer in the history of the world who has written a perfect piece of work, edited a couple of times, never had any outside opinions, and published their work the next day. Not the Bronte sisters, or Jane Austen, or John Keats, who never published until after he died. Franz Kafka, who I adore, thought his work was so terrible, he asked that it be burned upon his death, yet his work in every college curriculum in the Western world. It’s the nature of writing, I tell my students. It’s almost impossible for us to see ALL of our own mistakes.

I have no answers… just ramblings. So, I will leave you with a quote by John Osborne (English playwright, and screenwriter):

“Asking a writer what he thinks about criticism is like asking a lamppost what it feels about dogs.”

Oh those English….

8 comments:

T. Anne said...

Great quote! I too am way over protective regarding my paper children. It comes with the territory. :)

Cindy said...

What a beautiful post. I agree wholeheartedly that being a writer makes you vulnerable. It also takes courage. I posted on another blog earlier that writers have to be courageous to commit because they never know what will become of their work. Will it fail or succeed? Get praised or scoffed at? And yet still, to make our words truly reach people's hearts, it takes a vulnerability on our part to trust that our honesty will span the gap of the unknown and make an impact. BTW, I am not sure if I just missed it before, but I noticed the summary of your novel on the bottom of the page and I was so intrigued. What a wonderful journey of love and discovery!

beth said...

Great quote!

You're so right. It does get easier, IMO. After the first few critiques, when I started agreeing with the critiquers and realizing what needed to be changed even before I sent it to beta readers...it did make my skin a bit thicker and a bit more bearable.

Still sucks, though.

Anette J Kres said...

So right you are!

And I love that quote.

Just remember the video Glam posted up. The author of Eat, Love, Pray said to remember that you and your muse or genius are a team, so it's not all on your shoulders.

Keep showing up!

lotusgirl said...

Such a wonderful quote. It does feel like that sometimes. We open ourselves up and become vulnerable when we let others read what we write. It's scary in so many ways but exciting too.

Lady Glamis said...

Beautifully said, Traci. I am just happy that I have a friend like you to run to when I feel overwhelmed and drained from that creativity. Thank you for all your help!

Rebecca Anne said...

I wrote alittle bit about this in my blog today. I think I've just came down to one precious purpose to all the writing I labor over. It does need to be shared, with whom and how is not important, just the sharing part.

It's difficult to get past the 'what will other people think' part, thats for sure, but it swirls back to that purpose. Words, like people, need connection.
Your post did that for me today,
Rebecca

Litgirl01 said...

I love that quote too...it's my Shakespearean comic relief. :-D

Remind me not to write after drinking wine. he he