There was a game my cousin and I used to play when we were young. During a thunderstorm, we would pull our blankets from our beds and go sit in the living room. We would wait there, our blankets draped over our shoulders like capes, our fingers gripping the edges, waiting in false fear. We knew it would come--all we had to do was wait.
A flash of light would break through the windows. We’d cry out a screaming laugh and dive under the blankets. We had to be covered by darkness before the crashing BOOM of thunder would sound. When all grew quiet again, we would lift up the edges of our blankets and peer into the darkness of the still room around us. We would poke our heads out little by little, waiting for another blinding light to throw us back in. We would do this over and over again--waiting for light, hiding from sound.
Now, to be honest, I had no idea where telling this story would take me. The memory was simply on my mind as I sat here at my computer, wondering what in the world I would blog after nearly two years of silence. After moving back to Utah to attend graduate school. After so much has changed and so much has happened. I suppose that’s writing though--figuring out my thoughts as I go. Connecting the dots through words.
Creativity, for me, is similar to that memory. I keep waiting for it to strike, to light up the dark room that surrounds me. I want it to show me something I’ve never seen before: a chair that suddenly looks different under the light of electricity; the keys of the piano; the colors of a painting on the wall.
So, I wait. I linger. I crouch halfway beneath a blanket, waiting for creativity to strike me. Yet, just as it comes, I cower. I feel the thunderous noise of failure coming for me, and I dive beneath the blanket. I know that the light will bring the noise, so I run away from it. I never start. I never see the illuminated world because I’m too afraid of what could come next.
Too often, I'm so afraid of this failure. So afraid that if I start, I'll never finish. Or worse, that I'll finish and it won't be good enough. That it'll show that I'm not good enough. They're fears that so many artists have. Fears that create writer's block and a hesitancy to create at all.
But my fears are nonsense. Not because I've already been published. Not because I've won awards. They're nonsense because I've come to know a hard truth over these past few years. That I am a writer simply because it's what I am. It's what I've always been. I will succeed because I will never stop writing. It's what I have to do. I cannot live without it.
Still, writing is not easy. It's never easy. Creating any kind of art is difficult. It's so difficult that we pull out our hair, scream into the silence, throw things across the room, rip up our work, stomp so hard we hope to break through the ground and fall away into our despair.
But it's also worth every moment of frustration and pain. I don't think I have to tell this to any of you. Because, otherwise, why else would art exist? If it wasn't worth it, why would we do it? Why would we endure this pain? Why would we live through hardship and all those telling us we're not good enough? We do it because we have to. We do it because creativity is what brings us life. It's a part of what makes our tiny amount of time in the universe worth living. Because, I think, deep inside every artist, there's a piece that knows there's nothing else they want more than to create.
This is why I came back to Utah. I'm done hiding from the thunder. I'm finished with the self-doubt, with the fear of failure. Not that it won't crop up anymore--I know it will. But I will transcend it like I've done before. We can't let anyone tell us we can't make it--that we're not good enough.
Because we are.
We can all see the light. Stand straight. Hear the crash of creativity sweep through us. Feel the thunder reverberate through our bones. Then, sit down and create something beautiful.
It's inside all of us, waiting to be born.