Blogtalk: Honoring the Creative Process 5

Adrienne Crezo, in her blog post “On Being Submissive,” beautifully articulates writers’ (and artists’) dilemma: we possess a need to create through our art, second only to our physical needs to breath, eat, and sleep, yet — human that we are — feel inadequate to the task. Our minds imagine great works of sculpture, words of light, transformative creations that will shake the world. (Even when our art is journaling, we hope that we will leave something worthy of future generations.) But our fingers create something much smaller and, we think, less significant.

I empathize with much of what Adrienne has to say, having the same sorts of battles myself — except for one thing, and that is the concept of submitting to this drive. I am picking at the word itself, not the sentiment she communicates in her post. To me, the word submission is a negatively loaded term of compliance, yielding to some outside force or authority, acceptance, and resignation. It is a giving up and setting aside of self rather than a building up and expression of self, which is what I think art is ultimately.

I believe that what Ms. Crezo wants to convey is summed up best in her words: “My intention is to let the compulsion to write drive me, to hand my hands over to the Muse …” Rather than a process of submitting, I think the creative process is about learning to tune in to the Greater Self (after all, aren’t we each our own Muse?), to listen to our intuition, receive, and then use whatever talents and skills we have managed to accumulate to bring what we have heard into the world.

The creative process, whether writing or some other form of art, can be likened to giving birth: a seed of thought meets the divine breath of life and takes root; it must then be nurtured, fed, developed, and born. All of which takes awareness, focus, effort, and skill — at least if you want the child to be healthy and strong. Art is the same.

At times we may feel great and, at others, less than the lowest, and still possess that need to create. We can call it compulsion. We can say that we’re submitting to some invisible force. We can pretend it is not ourselves we are speaking about. But a rose is a rose; we have within us that [art, work, book, craft, word, thought, dream] which desires to come into the world and be made reality.

I encourage all of us writers and artists to change the way we think about ourselves and our art. Instead of submitting to it as though we are under some kind of threat of violence, let us honor it, love it, nurture it, and give it a place in our space and time. There are so many positive reasons to heed our creative call — and I think that by thinking of it as a call rather than an obligation, we will treat ourselves and our work with more compassion.

Now, I think I’ll put my soapbox away and get to work …




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5 thoughts on “Blogtalk: Honoring the Creative Process

  • Adrienne

    I’m inexpressibly flattered that you’re discussing my blog post here. I’ve gotten extraordinary feedback on it, which I think speaks the the universal dilemma of artists and thinkers. The brain and heart don’t always connect, you know? Putting them in touch can be excruciating.

    I’ll briefly defend my use of “submission” here because, for me, it’s not about being violently overtaken but about letting go of the things I hold up to keep the Muse from filling me. For this writer, creativity comes through a relinquishment of control and a letting-down of guards.

    That said, everyone has a different relationship with their craft and will find an individualized way of letting that drive into themselves. Your words on the subject are beautiful and inspiring, and I’m hopeful that they find the right readers, that someone walks away understanding their own struggle a little better and can use your post as guidance.

  • K.M. Weiland

    The use of the word “submission” is interesting. In some respects, I can completely see where she’s coming from. When the creative urge is upon me, it often does seem like an outside force that, if I’m to take advantage of it, I had better surrender to and stay out of its way as much as possible. But, at the same time, I tend to look at creativity as much more of an active than a passive role. For me, I find my best creative moments, when I’m charging along *in sync* with the wave of inspiration, rather just forcing it to tow me along.

  • Amber Lea Starfire

    Adrienne, thanks for your reply and for the compliment. Your post was definitely thought provoking and I love entering into this conversation together as artists. I do understand what you mean about the letting down of guards and control in order to let Muse have her way. And yes, we each approach it in our own way … whatever words we decide to use to describe our process.

  • Amber Lea Starfire

    K.M., I like the image of being in sync with the wave of inspiration. I was talking with my brother and his wife this weekend about success and how it is like surfing. When you are prepared, you can catch that big wave as it comes along. Craft and Inspiration go hand in hand, don’t they?

  • Sharon Lippincott

    This entry has had me thinking for several days now. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to scrub the negative connotations from that word, so I’m looking for alternate ways of expressing this fine idea. Yielding is a little easier on my ears and mind, but still close to submitting. I’m tending toward alignment. I’ll keep thinking — and journal about it. Thanks for bringing this up.