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The Pain of Creativity

My inaugural blog post. Should I say something pithy, outrageous, funny, alarming? Kleenex, please, for my flop sweat.


We writers are told not to wait for inspiration. Just dive in and create your “shitty first draft,” as Anne Lamott puts it. That’s what I tell my students: Even the sculptor needs a lump of clay to start shaping it. Would that sculptor refer to his clay as shitty? It’s all about tolerance of that uncomfortable gray area of creativity. Lean into it, baby!


I remember my favorite high school class, Arts & Humanities. Our final assignment was to create a piece of art—a drawing, play, poem, whatever. I wanted so badly to write a short story, but I got caught up in the trite symbolism: Should I have the good guys wear white hats and bad guys black? Or switch? I locked up tighter than a rusty screw with no WD-40 in sight. Such was my fear of getting it wrong, whatever that meant. The looming deadline forced my hand, and I hurriedly created a picture of each season accompanied by a haiku. I still remember two:


Summer

Green grass, tall grass

Bright sun, hot sun

Brown grass, dead grass

Rain

Green grass, tall grass


Spring

Slow, the embryo of being

flows gently

into mystic presence.


They may not be Nobel-worthy, but I still love them.


The good news is that I found I could work through the pain of ambiguity that comes with any creative endeavor—just as I did with this blog post. So, what were you saying about flop sweat?

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