Creativity is about…

boatI’m not one of those folks who believes that a painter on a desert island will go on painting canvases (or rather, banana leaves, as this may be the only available resource) if s/he is alone with no one else to see the art.

I honestly don’t think this sort of perpetual creative art would happen, and that’s not just my personal ego and need for appreciation talking.

Humans have been wired with a need for community. Even if we do our best work alone (and this is exactly true, according to Susan Cain’s book, Quiet), we do not serve ourselves best by remaining that way.

I can’t write at my desk in my little town house while my son sleeps and be happy in the completeness that I’ve laid out a few paragraphs of story. Sure, there are days when I’m certain I’ve made something good, but this all-too-soon fades without someone to share my work with.

I formed a critique group to get a dedicated bunch of readers to help me finish writing my first novel. I needed them desperately.

I paint so that my husband will smile and admire it. I smear pastels in vivid arrangements so that my dad’s eyes spark and he asks if he can hang it on his wall. I read my stories out loud on Friday nights because my listening friends keep me from stopping to write entirely. I dance so that my husband and I can connect together.

Creativity is about giving what you’ve made to other people.

I don’t create so that people will like me (heh, at least not always). But I also don’t create art for no one.

So if you think it’s a romantic notion to just lock yourself away for an endless, silent bliss in which you can focus on your creative endeavor, you should definitely follow this urging. Just don’t be surprised when you lose your steam. That is your signal to return. It means you need your community.

I’ll say it again:

Creativity is about giving what you’ve made to other people.

That loneliness for others is not weakness. It’s the voice of your village calling you back.

About Elise

Elise Stephens began her career in writing at age six, illustrating her own story books and concocting wild adventures. Stephens counts authors Neil Gaiman, C.S. Lewis, and Margaret Atwood among her literary mentors, and has studied under Orson Scott Card. She dreams often of finding new ways to weave timeless truths into her stories. Her novels include Moonlight and Oranges (2011), Forecast (2013), and Guardian of the Gold Breathers (2015), a finalist for the INDIEFAB Book of the Year. She lives in Seattle with her family. Follow her on Twitter @elisestephens and Author Elise Stephens on Facebook.

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