Monday, July 9, 2007

Things that have finally melded...

cre·a·tiv·i·ty /ˌkrieɪˈtɪvɪti, ˌkriə-/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[kree-ey-tiv-i-tee, kree-uh-] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation
1. the state or quality of being creative.
2. the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.; originality, progressiveness, or imagination: the need for creativity in modern industry; creativity in the performing arts.
3. the process by which one utilizes creative ability: Extensive reading stimulated his creativity.
[Origin: 1870–75; creative + -ity] Unabridged (v 1.1)
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.

I was reading the August/Sept copy of my favorite magazine, Mary Engelbreit's Home Companion and in her forward note she says, "Creativity is an elusive quality, hard to pin down. Dozens of studies have been done over the years in an attempt to explain it. The dictionary defines it as the ability to use the imagination to develop new and original ideas or things, but I'd like to expand that definition a little.

There's really nothing new under the sun. To me, creativity is the gift of seeing the familiar world with new eyes, a vision that empowers us to constantly reinvent and renew our surroundings."

You see, a while ago I'd been dwelling on this Muse thing. You know, the artists (and authors are in this group known as artists-we create with words) that always say things like, "The muse has left me." Or...whatever.

I used to believe there was no Muse, also. Just like Shelli, I thought it was an excuse until my family hit a few weeks of tailspin and I couldn't write for the screeching *Warning!* alarm going off in my head. I mean No Writing. Not a comma. Nada. All I could manage to accomplish was staring at a wall, and while I was staring, I realized that art, or creativity, comes from a very special place within us that is precious and needs guarding. Which is why books like The Artists Way are needed, and still held in high regard by many people.

Because creativity comes from this special place and is nurtured (and we do nurture it, with expressing ourselves in other ways apart from writing, reading, making collages about our stories, taking a nap-all are ways of nurturing our creativity. (Bring on the naps, I hear ya.)) it is something that we care for, and by caring for it, we give it value.

When we value something, after caring for it and protecting it's ability to grow, we open ourselves up to pain and hurt feelings when that...Thing (Dare I say baby? No, but I can see why the analogy has withstood) is released into the public. Some of us have held our talents to our breasts, unable to share them for fear of ridicule, and others, incredibly brave, have perched on the cliff and thrown them into the air hoping that they take flight. When we see those nurtured Things stomped on by others it's hurtful beyond belief. Someone didn't see the beauty in our work, that has come from that creative place inside us. Someone didn't give value to what we gave value to.

This is why I cannot believe that an artist and their work can be separated. I've come to think that people who truly believe this are looking for justification to compartmentalize and then attack an artist's work. Authors who believe this-I think-are telling themselves a lie for damage control purposes. Because to care about something means you are vulnerable enough to get hurt. And we know after a few rejections that it's the brave souls that win in the publishing industry. The ones that face the rejection over and over yet salvage the shred of hope that makes it to the point of publication.

All these thoughts have been swirling in my head, stirred by the pitchfork of the Mean Review. I'm not talking about a review where someone pointed out some holes in your writing, or didn't sympathize with your characters the way you'd hoped and pointed those out in a review. I'm not using Precious Precious as an excuse to not grow a thick skin and be able to take a critique (believe me, when you love Precious enough and want to see her fly, you'll take the critique). Nor am I excusing the inability of some artists to see any perspective other than their own. What I'm talking about is the WebBully and her minions. Bullies exploit weakness when it's exposed and leave others silenced as they protect themselves from ridicule.

Maybe back in the day of Hemmingway he heard about people talking trash about his books, maybe some of them even had the audacity to write scathing letters, but the web has brought us all closer. Close enough for a whisper of criticism to be heard, and it's seemingly stripped people of their civility. Where once people would never say such things face to face, now it's all just a click away. We've all heard the about the flame wars, the rudeness and the justifications that's it's all in the vein of being honest. Let me give you a hint-you can be honest without being rude. You can say what you think without leaving people picking up the shards of their hearts. And what sickens me the most is the pleasure these bullies take in leaving people like that, just like in Highschool with their Popular Girl Minions standing around giving each other high fives over the amount of blood spatter on the walls.

I haven't before given much thought to why the bullies do what they do, but if I were to guess, I would say that they're protecting themselves from being bullied. It's an offensive tactic rather than a defensive one. Zeek said something interesting that applied today, "Broken people who hate what they do to numb the pain and can't seem to stop melt my heart. Broken people who show no sign of wanting to change make me want to scream in frustration."

Yes, bullies are broken. They are so afraid of being transparent and vulnerable that they eviscerate and attack so they are never put under the microscope themselves because they are not only afraid of someone else seeing them for the truth they are, but that others would see and find them lacking. Their minions are no better. Maybe even worse because they are so paralyzed they can only follow.

Like I said in my title, these thoughts have been brewing after reading blogs and a few articles and searching myself for my own truths. I was always one to sit with the ostracized, and to befriend the new kid on the block. I'd been there 13 times, I knew how scary it was. And now that I've been published I feel the need to reach out to the authors that have had their dreams dashed and privacy invaded by bullies who reach through their screens to attack.

When people have asked me why I write, I've often sarcastically responded, "Because I have to." In a certain sense having to is true, and in another much more important way my answer is, "Because I can." I've allowed myself to. I've not listened to those who told me I couldn't, or worse, that I shouldn't. I've silenced my inner ...bitch, for lack of a better term, that always tells me that I'm a hack. I listen to my husband who when I told him I was going to get involved in a multi level marketing business said, "No. You're almost there. Don't lose focus now because you're almost there."

In having children I've learned that that ability to silence the demons is a strength and maybe we should feel sorry for the bullies because they aren't that strong.

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