Creativity is a strange thing. Most people consider it rare, unless they are themselves artists. Many people who are not artists have an infatuation with artists or a desire to get in touch with their artistic side. The strange thing about being a creative person is the space in people’s lives that cultivates creativity. Contrary to how many people imagine, creative people are not producing their art in an instagram-esque space. At least, most of the time, it is not how they perceive it. Nor is being a creative person as glamorous as it’s cracked up to be.
Many a times, art begins from a place of despair, loneliness, solitude, struggle and the like and these are not necessarily things that can be found by searching. At least, it is not what people searching for art are looking for. In fact, even when found, it doesn’t necessarily translate into art. It could just begin and end at despair. In this way I suppose, art is a “gift”. It is not because of technical complication or conceptual difficulty that it is difficult to produce, but rather because of the rare space in which it exists.
Even in that space, it is not an automatic process and perhaps most people are unaware of how to find that space in their life, and for other people it just doesn’t exist. Although, it’s politically dangerous to admit, I think this is one of the reasons I have a preference for art made by colored people. To me, it seems to be more focused in content and these fundamental desires as opposed to mastery of superficial skills. My intention is not to negate the possibility that Caucasian artists produce work of substance, of course. That would be ignorant. Rather that, on average, it seems that I gravitate more towards art made by colored people because I find it contains an unmatched element of realness which is only amplified by my own bias/ability to relate….which, as you’ll notice can sometimes take me off topic.
Art is not always pleasant. There is politics to being an artist who shares their art, which is at times in direct contradiction to the space that produces it. In selling or sharing your art, the amount of control you have over your writing might be compromised. In essence, you are commodifying your art and trying to capitalize on it and this change in goal can be harmful to your art and creativity. If art is initiated with a desire to impress, it lacks some crucial qualities, for example, depth, contemplation, complexity. This is very different than the situation in which art is produced as a desire to express. There are certain ideas that form in your mind in some of the most desperate situations in life; those are the ones worth writing about. Writing is uncomfortable. It makes you recount unpleasant and uncomfortable experiences of your life, very slowly, in words. In this sense then, it is essential for writers to be very comfortable with who they are. This also requires that the purpose of writing is not to appear likable or impressive to your peers but to have a genuine urgency to share something with them or with yourself. Often times, when there isn’t much to share in a striking way, that’s alright too. It’s as much a part of life as the sensational moments and emotions are. Not all of our emotions are profound; some are simple. It is important to remember to experience them with authenticity and not with expectation to profit from them.
Most importantly, art cannot be rushed, forced, or faked, and I have learned this the hard way. Even as an artist, you will not always be in a mental place to create as your most important ideas in life are limited in the same way as the important experiences in your life. You will not always be prepared to share what you have written because although, your words might represent your own perception, you will not always feel qualified to carry the weight of the issues you are attempting to address. Many times, this will be okay because it might be true. Sometimes you will deal with ideas that have already been dealt with and feel that this reduces their value, and you may learn that it isn’t the ideas themselves but how you get to them that matters, but sometimes you may not. And that is okay. It is okay to have had art and to stay away from it for some time.
Lastly, it is okay to not have art. Allow yourself happiness. As a younger me once wrote:
Sometimes, I imagine a perfect home overseas.
Sometimes, I want happiness more than poetry.
It is not necessary for you to be involved in every process that you have the capacity to admire. You will often be on the receiving end of ideas that will strike you in an irreparable way. That ability to absorb, listen, and learn is no less beautiful. It is partially what gives meaning to the performers on stage. When art begins in honesty, it is beautiful; when art is perceived in honesty, it is all the more beautiful. You can use your life in a productive manner without producing art and be just as important as the artist. It may not be explicit importance as artists tend to receive all at once but it also won’t be as much of a temporary influx. Sustainable admiration, meaning, and happiness are just as beautiful and that acknowledgement prevents the bastardization of art.