Sometimes when I tell people what I do, they will say, “Oh, you’re so creative. I’m not creative.” I am flattered that they think I’m creative, but the truth is that complimenting a person on their creativity is a little like complimenting a fish on how well it swims. Likewise, the only person who is actually not creative is a dead person. Yet I understand this distinction. Those people we call creative seem to have harnessed an unevenly distributed power. From them emerges new stories, new songs, new buildings, new ideas. They are the fertile garden in which all this shiny and interesting newness is grown, and the others, the non-creators, eat happily from their fruit. Such is life.
But such is not life. This distinction is not life’s distinction, but ours. Everyone stands in the same garden. Some people have noticed that the ground beneath their feet is fertile, and some have not. Some people have planted an idea and watered it and watered it with their attention until it bloomed, and some people were not so patient. But our creative ground is like all soil; it does not discriminate between who is watering. All it asks for is seeds, and water, and sun.
I have compassion for those who call themselves uncreative. So much happens beneath the soil, and some seeds spend years spreading their roots, that our attention can seem wasted, water poured into a barren land. And how miraculous can seem those first buds of spring, year after year, miracle upon miracle, something born without our effort. Such are the stories we tell while thoughts take root. And how easily we believe them all, believe them and tell them while all that we have planted grows and grows beneath our feet.
Write Within Yourself: An Author's Companion. "A book to keep nearby whenever your writer's spirit needs feeding." Deb Caletti.