Untangling Creativity

Photo: Yana Hurskaya

We’re tangled. All of us. We’re tangled up in this crazy idea that what we make, produce, create must then be sub-divided into a category, a genre, a tag, and fit neatly onto a platform.

I’m not complaining, but I am very aware of the box I can put myself in to produce art. I contribute to this box by using tags at the end of my stories, as one example, as tags serve to highlight so that others with similar interests can locate my story. I accept this, but tags delineate and marginalize nuance. Rather than fight this, because I can’t, I will use tags as a way to advertise (their intended purpose), but because advertising comes with its own set of frustrations, I have decided to look at ways where I can step away from marginalizing my work by introducing nuance.

Creativity is unique, as we all know, to the individual, but the individual craves attention.

So by fitting ourself into these intended advertising tags, we can inadvertently create in a way that puts what we want to contribute into a holding cell of some sort. But creativity is messy. It is raw. It is troubled and reflects an artist’s struggle, desire for recognition, and acceptance. No one artist is immune from this desire to be heard. Rather than abandon ourself to what we feel, we lock ourself in to what we think will sell, or at the very least will give us a thumb’s up, a clap. It’s difficult not to buy into this formula. I do it. I want recognition so I have been known to pattern what I do to attract others. But by selling art, essentially selling ourself for the sake of likes, I feel we’re doing ourselves a disservice.

As this pattern of attracting *likes* has become impeded in us, I feel we are standing farther and farther out on some cliff face seeking attention. Our self suffers, because when we do this, to get attention, we contain our creativity. One could argue that going out on a limb to find our best creative self is crucial, and I would agree, but that’s the difficult part of nuance… I’m not saying ‘don’t go out on a limb.’ I’m addressing this need for attention. Ultimately, this cliff face will not be enough. We will want more attention, more acceptance. Maybe we will try standing closer to the edge in the hope that more people will notice. But this edge is dangerous. At any one moment we could fall. Of course I’m throwing this out as a metaphor. Creativity is not contained. It is unleashed. It is the undiscovered aspects of ourself.

If we lean too far into what others want us to be we will never discover what lies hidden outside the box.

I don’t have the answer to change the course of this phenomenon, but I do have a suggestion. We desperately want to advertise our stories, our drawings, our songs, our souls. Or do we? Maybe it’s enough to share. Share our authenticity. Share our nuance. Share our Truth. By substituting the word *sell* for the word *share,* I’m leaning closer in to my Truth. I am beginning to feel less like I have to have to stand on the edge to get noticed and more like I am grounded in my own two feet.

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