Friday, January 27, 2012
Worrying about creativity
This has been a short work week because of the start of the new semester. It has been relaxing to not have a pile of papers to grade, so many lessons to plan, etc., etc. So I should be feeling relaxed on this Friday. However, I am not feeling that way. I am worrying. Of course there are any number of things I could worry about. Drew is a little under the weather. The 30 hour famine is quickly approaching and we can't convince our teens to go raise some money. I volunteered to facilitate a Bible study with the women's group. Ben's sleep schedule is off and I'm out of ideas to fix it. I could worry about all of those things, but I'm not. So what am I worried about?
I'm feeling creative and I'm worried about that. That may seem like a really odd thing to worry about. If you are feeling creative, express yourself in the way most natural to you and enjoy it. That's all there is to it right? Wrong! I feel increasingly like I have a story to tell, a fictional one. I'm getting pretty good at writing a little story about my life and I've even started work on a couple compilations of true stories. I can handle all that, but fiction. That is so daunting. The time and effort to get the words out and get the characters right. There are so many characters and situations running around in my head, but how do I get that on paper? Admittedly, it would probably help if I wasn't reading Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art and Untitled: Thoughts on the Creative Process. Then I read this post from Jeff Goins today. It makes me start to realize that writing a little here and there for fun isn't all there is to it. There is something God has put inside me that wants to read stories and also create them. To dream of characters and places that don't exist and then make them real through my words. And maybe this isn't something I just want to do. Maybe it is something I was meant to do. That means that God has given me some kind of message to get out in the world. And that is a lot to worry about.
I have always written romantic fiction. That may seem a little odd when my favorite reading genre is mystery. Agatha Christie and Jessica Fletcher are good friends. I like the Harry Potter series, The Historian, and The Book Thief. Those are great reads and so it seems like I would want to write about fantasy or mystery or some life of great beauty and tragedy. I don't though. I want to write like Jane Austen, Emily Brontë, or Ernest Hemmingway in A Farewell to Arms. I want to write because I have disliked The Hunger Games and Twlight. I want to write because I hated the 'romance' between Penny and Leonard on The Big Bang Theory. Romance is so misunderstood and misused today. It is hinted at, but not explored in novels. Big grand events happen, but character motivation is absent. People are thrown together and act the way society tells them too, but they don't understand what they are doing or why. They can't talk about why with their romantic interest. They don't even explore it in themselves. We have degenerated the genre of romance to a simply a few hot scenes and 'fate'. There is so much more to it than that. Austen, Brontë, and Hemmingway understood that there is more. They wrote about those deep places in the heart where romance lives. They wrote about those painful reflections that one has to have to decide the direction of their life based on their romantic interests. And yes life happens along the way in these stories, but their characters don't leave it up to life to decide on their romance. The characters explore romance in themselves and in others to make a conscious decision about it.
How do I put all of that into a story? What if I don't get it right? What if no one wants to read it? How can it make a difference if no one reads it? What if I say the wrong things or create the wrong characters? How do I stay motivated to write a whole story when I have so much other stuff going on in my life? And my biggest worry, how do I trust God to work through me to create the right story?
Thanks for listening today. Any thoughts or advice would be welcome.
*Joining with Casey today