Calling one’s self ‘A Creative’ is a big part of our modern obsession with individuality and uniqueness and our quest for our fifteen minutes of fame too. We all want to be autonomous to the nth degree even as we are, ironically, being herded into more and more sameness and oneness by the spiritual realm which seeks to resurrect the tower of babel and man’s ultimate rebellion against God…
And so those who refer to themselves, or others, as ‘A Creative’ or ‘Creatives’, raise my suspicions. Creative is best used as it was meant to be used: as an adjective to flesh out a noun; not a noun to flesh out a better-than label we seek to put upon ourselves and others. But that’s not the only word that raises my inner word-nerd flags.
Others have pigeonholed me as an artist. As my life, and the (sometimes dumb) things I do with it, is kinda, well, colorful at best and downright weird and self destructive at worst. Stereotypical artist’s way there. But, honestly, I’m good with just being known in my real world life: as a writer. Since writing is my favorite thing to do with my fingers. To me, being labeled as an artist seems like I should be tossing pottery from a wheel or setting up a fresh blank canvas on an easel in my living room.
Nevertheless, a professional woman in my town once caught me off guard when she said to me, ‘I wish I could get away with dressing like you do’. I looked down and realized my hot pink skirt had a dirt stain from tending the vegetable garden. My hands went to my head where I remembered that I hadn’t combed my hair since showering, and could only imagine how bad all that was looking mid-day.
Well, you know, you’re an artist. She explained. It suits you.
Therefore I guess I can get away with uncombed hair and stains on my skirt.
And so, that is exactly why I put the words ‘A Creative’ in air quotes in the opening sentence. Because I think we crossed some threshold now, where the word artist, and all the other labels that have sprung from it, are overused. To the point of it now being a cliche. Just like artists getting away with dressing a certain way is well on its way to being a cliche as well. One that I, as a writer, now use intentionally in order to bring forth certain traits in a fictional or real character. That way the reader can see just how much that character enjoys her place in that artist world. In short: someone who is entirely too proud of being a creative, and/or wearing the artist label.
Just as the modern art world doesn’t exactly jive with Biblical Christianity: pride doesn’t jive so good with following Jesus, either.
Yes, I know, the word well would have been proper grammar, but I used good intentionally to make a point. Because a part of me can still hear my high school English teacher correcting someone in class who asked to leave school early, with an, ‘I don’t feel good’ declaration. To which we all received another grammar lesson: I think you meant to say, ‘I don’t feel well’-so go to the office and call home then.
Sometimes, to make a greater point, a writer needs to dim the voice of old English teachers who are married to grammar. As those types are not always so aware of the overall effect which too much high-brow, perfected language can do to a piece. Therefore, I break some rules. I suggest other writers do as well.
I also view many of the popular habits of writing and writers themselves, with hesitation. Writer’s groups can easily make it too much about the writer instead of the work. Creating all these categories to explain ourselves which have become so overused now as to become cliches of their own. And so I throw in some bad grammar on purpose and I don’t always clean up these blog posts all the best either. In order to keep myself off the writer’s high horse.
Because most horses scare me. Especially tall ones. And because God’s gift to me isn’t so much about me as it is bringing glory to Him. I could convince myself that me doing my very best is what brings Him glory. But the educated Apostle Paul intentionally made himself common and lowly, trembling and hesitant. And all throughout the Old Testament the soldiers were being told to go into battle on foot, with sticks and stones and other things: against those enemy riders yielding swords on horses and chariots. Therein is how God works miracles through His people.
Artists who don’t get their insecurities met in Jesus will end up trying to write or create their way there instead; and that is futile.
When I first started this blog, I would sometimes include posts ‘about writing’. I can still see the ‘writing and publishing’ ‘blogging’ categories I once created, in my categories tab on the back end of things. A lot of those posts are now set to private.
When I began feeling like I had crossed a major threshold of healing, I revamped this blog, sometime in late 2019. And I’m still deciding what to do with it all, if anything. But lately I am drawn again to the writing and publishing side of being a writer. I ducked out of most of that when I got sick, as it was too overwhelming and because my abusers were frequent readers of the content I was publishing, too. As I heal further, I’m feeling more ready to put content into the world in those old fashioned ways again: even, perhaps, with my real name attached to it. All of which has me revisiting the very craft and art form of writing itself.
Pre-healing, I viewed that world of writing one way; and somehow God protected me supernaturally from a lot of its pitfalls. Post-healing, I am taking a critical look at that creative world which so much of the greater world wants to label me right into. I am also realizing just how much God once protected me when I was in the thick of it. And how much no part of me wants to identify with some of it, again.
It’s important to note that while a lot of bloggers, and writers in general, seem to share pretty freely about their lives: we only ever see but a fraction of an author’s complexity. So it is with me and what I share on this anonymous blog. In my real life, things are far more complex than this anonymous peek into it can show.
For instance, I have published some things both the old fashioned way (where I got paid for it) as well as the modern way of self-publishing where I assumed the cost of putting content into the world, myself, for various reasons (having a blog is self-publishing and most anyone can do that easily enough, and pretty cheaply, these days).
And, back when I first did all that, and began to be known as a writer, it garnered a lot of response from the people I knew in my real life. As well as some letters and emails and feedback from total strangers.
One thing I heard a lot, when I first started trying to ‘be a serious writer’, was a reference to a certain book. And had I read it, yet? Had it changed my whole life, yet? And what was I waiting for, because it’s a must read! Most of the people telling me about this book, were Christians. On the conservative bent, too. I heard so much about this one book that every writer just had to read, that over a decade after I first felt the pressure to read it… I can still remember the title as if I’m hearing people urging me toward it all over again.
And therein is the uncommon grace of God. Because no part of me felt compelled to pay that book any real attention years ago. Even though so many people suggested it, Christian people I admired and trusted too, that it’s shocking to me that I was never even curious enough to look into it, let alone that I didn’t rush out and buy it and read it immediately. All I remember is feeling a turning in my gut and a turn off in my mind every time another well meaning person labeled me an artist and wanted me to read the famous book that had gone around all the church and social circles like a bad head cold.
The book I am referring to is ‘The Artist’s Way’ by Julia Cameron. There is absolutely nothing Christian about this book, that I can tell, based on this interview with it’s author. It seems incredibly new age and self-interested. However, I am suddenly curious about this. As I love to study religion and the ramifications which happen when we pass something around the Christian church which was chock full of falsehoods.
I think I am healed enough now and ready to read this book. Which is why I have a used copy coming and will share my thoughts after I dive into it. But I’m not delving to learn what to do, it will be more as a what not to do lesson and I am assuming it will give me a revealing look into what the church in my lifetime has been more than willing to tolerate; as well. Because it sure seems to me that ‘our contemporary obsession with creativity’ as outlined in this interview with the author of The Artist’s Way is a big part of why we are so thoroughly given over to that which was first put forth in 2 Timothy 3:2.
And, honestly, it likely won’t even make a dent or a ruffle or even raise a single eyebrow. Because I’m an artist. We get away with such things.