“The true creative impulse chooses life rather than death, and love rather than hatred.” (Nin, Chap. 8, location 3592-3599)
Much has been said about the creative impulse. In an article by author K. M. Weiland “Make War, Not Love: Be Creative”, Weiland’s analogy of creativity to powerful, if rather masculine, ideas such as defiance and war puts an interesting spin on it.
Weiland’s writes of creativity as an act of defiance because being creative means being different than the norm, She states, “It doesn’t matter what is being created, the very act is a challenge to rise above mediocrity and do something” (Weiland, par. 4; emphasis original). Mediocrity and the mundane of everyday life is, of course, what we live with, but creative artists, as I have said here, must walk the line between the everyday and the extraordinary, between the real world and the world of their imagination. To do that does take something of a bold move. Even the choice to be creative is “one of the most defiant things a human can do in the face of a world that continually pushes us into apathy, complacency, and conformity” (Weiland, par. 6). Anais Nin, in her book The Novel of the Future takes it a step further by saying, “[c]reativity is in itself a denial of categories, dogmas, and set values” (Chap. 3, location 1264). To deny the neat little categories that we as human beings live in because they offer some kind of comfort and continuity for us is a way of declaring the beauty of difference and imperfections.
For Weiland, this defiance is a sort of psychological warfare with the imagination. Because “one of the most honest, authentic, powerful, difficult things any human being can do is be creative” (par. 1; emphasis original), to create something is to battle with internal and external critics, self-doubt, fear, and apprehension. It’s a battle the creator always wins because of his or her defiance against the will not to create.
I prefer to think the act of creativity as one of nurture rather than battle. There is the obvious connection of procreation but it’s also about bringing to life something that denies the neat little categories. Nin’s assertion is that “[t]he process of creativity is [a] daring escape from conventional patterns, not because they are conventional but because they are dead, used up” (Chap. 4, location 2356; emphasis added). So to create something is a resurrection of a kind, of dead feeling, dead thoughts, dead ideologies. We might see connections or a new attitude or an epiphany.
A writer in my critique group once told me that my writing had something calming to it, despite the often dark contexts and psychological explorations. It’s one of the most touching complements about my writing I’ve ever received because I strive to show the sunlight through the darkness in my stories. I’m fully aware that my writing can get quite intense. But I always try to show a ray of hope in my stories, the little light at the bottom of the dark well that may not always be a happy ending but it is at least a direction in which to turn where the characters can find their peace of mind. Not all of my work has this quality (for example, my flash fiction story “The Chameleon” ends a little despairingly) but many of my longer works are infused with this comforting quality.
To step away from fear, I believe you have to go against the categories though not necessarily destroy them completely. In fact, the idea of creativity as nurture is about art as constructive rather than destructive. And, as Nin says, “The creative personality never remains fixed on the first world it discovers. It never resigns itself to anything. That is the deepest meaning of rebellion…” (Chap. 8, location 3592). So whether it’s an act of war or an act of nurture, creativity is about being an independent thinker and doer.
Nin, Anais. The Novel of the Future. Sky Blue Press. The Anais Nin Trust, 2014 (original publication date 1968). Kindle digital file.
Weiland, K. M. “Make War, Not Love: Be Creative”. K. M. Weiland News. K.M. Weiland, 2013. 29 March 2016. Web. 14 December 2016.