Friday, May 28, 2010

Why do people who create, create?

I found a friend from secondary school on Facebook the other day. For two years, we had been two of an inseparable foursome, but I hadn’t met her since I moved out of that school a couple of months short of my 13th birthday.
The first couple of messages were the usual, “are you so and so?” and “I never thought I would ever get in touch with you” ones. They were filled with anticipation- we had lived most of our lives without the other, and only the next few days would tell us if we had drifted so far apart we had nothing in common except a shared past, or if we had each grown in different ways but ended up becoming soul buddies.
Her profile told me was that she was single (was she divorced or separated, or never married, or just living out a fantasy on her facebook profile – I knew people who fit into all three catagories), that she worked for a prestigious school (could be in any capacity from curriculum developer, to teacher to administrator), and that she still called home the city we had grown up in. It did not tell me who she was and whether we could grow to be friends.
Gradually, she started telling me about herself. She was single by choice. Was working as a nursery school teacher. And “in the days before the recession in the art world, was a painter”. In the two yeas that I had known her, she had never displayed much talent in the arts, so I was surprised at her initial career choice. But even more, I was stunned by her statement that she had been a painter when the markets were booming- didn’t that imply that she had stopped paining after the market tanked?
How could she? I know writers who write because they cannot bear the thought of not writing, and dancers who dance because they are not happy unless they do. I had always presumed painters were the same- that they painted because their paintings haunted them till put down on canvas. I never thought it was possible for creativity to be available on tap- to be turned on when there was a market for your creations and turned off otherwise.
I know I am never going to make money out of writing, but I write because the characters in my head just refuse to go away unless I do. I know many of you have made want to make writing a career, but did you start writing because you wanted to sell books, or because you wanted to write books that would be read?
Maybe I was doing her a disservice, but I did not reply to that message. Somehow, I did not think I had much in common with her.

And speaking of writers who write because their stories will not leave them alone till they are put down on paper, Clarissa Draper has put her first mystery on line.

It's a 90,000 word mystery with ciphers to crack. So far, no one she knows has cracked the cipher without reading the novel all the way through. She is even willing to drop hints if someone wants to attempt the cipher, and if someone does crack it before the character in the book, she will consider giving the person a prize.
Five chapters are up already, and they are fantastic. Do yourself a service and click across to see for yourself. The book is complete, and she'll be posting a chapter or two every week.


Karen Walker said...

Good morning, Rayna,
I began writing in order to heal, in journals. It took me 10 years to complete my memoir, and in all that time, I never once considered not writing. Now, even though I know how hard it is to get published, I still write. I can't imagine not writing, even if it wasn't for publication. Perhaps your old friend just didn't see a way to make a career out of it. Perhaps she paints for herself. Who knows?

Deb and Barbara said...

I knew from a very young age that I wanted to be an actor and a writer. So I wrote my first novel at 13 and started directing my own plays (the kind you perform in your backyard for your parents) at about the same time. It was heaven.

Then a callous Grade 10 teacher told me I couldn't write. And I stupidly decided to pack it in. Luckily acting saved my creative life.

But writing proved to be tenacious, compelling me again in my mid-thirties despite my insecurities.

And the best part about writing (and art) is that you don't actually need someone to "give you permission" to do it (unlike acting). So, like you, I write constantly and because I HAVE to. And hopefully, others will want to read what I write! But if they don't, this time I won't be able to stop...


Jaydee Morgan said...

I began writing because I loved telling stories. I still do. Of course, I'd love to see one (or more) books published but regardless, I'll keep writing. It's a passion that won't be decided by whether I sell or not.

Clarissa Draper said...

When I first saw your post, I thought I posted twice. Thank you so much for mentioning my site. That's so kind of you. And seriously, if someone cracks the code before my character does... I WILL give them a prize (an amazon gift card).

As for your post. I want to find some people I went to school with. One person I knew in secondary school I think about a lot. We were really close. I loved her even though she had a lot of emotional issues because her mother died in a rock slide in Canada. When she moved out of my school, we kept in contact by letter for many years but as time went by she became more and more depressed (I was too young at the time to know the symptoms fully) and finally the letters stopped. I tried many different ways to contact her but couldn't. Now that facebook is here. I often think about looking her up. I just don't know where to start.


KarenG said...

I just joined Facebook to do the BuNoWriMo challenge. I'm having palpitations since I said I'd never join FB. Hmmm, what now??


I began writing poetry after 2 berevements within 2 minths, found I could express my thoughts and feelings on paper, yet at school I hated poetry. I supposed it has become part of my life now. I wish you well with your writing,

Take care.

Lydia Kang said...

I loved words for so long, used to see them in my mind when people talked, but only recently did I realize I wanted to dedicate a chunk of my life to it.
It's a weird, magical thing, creativity and writing.

slommler said...

If one creates for the money...then I can see someone putting it aside if no money is made. Must love what you do and need to do it too!!
Just my two cents!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Sounds like she grew depressed and simply gave up on her dream.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Wow, was she only doing it to make a living? Perhaps that's why she stopped - she had no real passion in the first place. Because if it's a burning desire, nothing will stop you!

Carol Kilgore said...

Great post. I think creative types find a way to use their creativity even if it's not their chosen method. And maybe your friend still paints, just doesn't try to sell right now.

Watery Tart said...

I would always WRITE, but publication dreams keep me more rigid about the schedule. I want people to want to READ what I write--you KNOW how I like to be the center of attention! How can I possibly achieve world domination if nobody is reading my stuff?! Seriously though... I would definitely write.

I will check out the mystery! Thanks for the link!

Theresa said...

Did she actually say that she stopped painting, though? Or that she simply didn't sell art anymore. Just because someone doesn't sell art or make a living off of their talent, doesn't mean that don't still possess it and exercise it. Perhaps she only meant it's not her career anymore, not that she gave up painting all together. I know several people who create at home on their own time, for their own benefit whether there is a chance of making money from it or not. Perhaps it was just misunderstood

Jemi Fraser said...

I can't imagine not writing. I've always written - although there were several long stretches where life was just too busy. But I've always just written for me. It's only quite recently I've decided to try writing for publication. Still not far along enough to know what'll happen :) But I can't imagine not writing.

Rayna M. Iyer said...

@ Karen - that is what I admire so much about you. That instead of sweeping bad memories into a corner of the brain, you chose to relive them in an attempt to make sense of them.
And yes, maybe you are right about my friend. Maybe she still paints, but doesn't call herself a painter because she is no longer able to sell.

@ Barbara- teachers who discourage should be shot. Yes, that sounds extreme, but that is how I see it. They don't seem to realise the damage they do.
Thanks for sharing.

@ Jaydee- you sound just like me. There are stories waiting to be told, so I tell them. I would like to share, but even if I can't, I wouldn't be able to stop writing.

@ Clarissa - I think your story is brilliant and am more than happy to plug it.
And I do hope you manage to find your friend.

@ KarenG - never say never. That's my motto.

@ Yvonne - and your poems really touch the heart.

@ Lydia- it is a weird magical thing, isn't it?

@ SueAnn - precisely. And if a book or a painting is created without passion, I wonder if I really want it.

@ Alex - isn't that sad. Very very sad.

@ Diane- that's just what I thought. And isn't it a pity that she was given the talent without the passion. If that is what it was.

@ Carol - you may be right. In fact, after hearing you, Karen and Theresa, I have mailed her back.

@ Hart- and one day you will be read by a lot more people than just me and the rest of the Burrowers. I have faith in you.

@ Theresa - you may have a point there. I thought she said she was a painter till the recession struck, but maybe she defines painter as someone who makes a living form paintings. I have written back to her, because I may have been harsh in my condemnation.

@ Jemi - me neither. Whether I publish or not, I will write because I cannot not tell those stories. Though if I cannot crack the publication dream, I may stick to drabbles, because those give me a lot of joy without too much effort.


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