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Friday, February 15, 2008

You know you're a Creative when...

I've had a lot of time off of work lately. It began with my kids getting a stomach virus (that was fun). Then, my school system had parent conferences, so I had Friday off. We had Tuesday off for elections, and then an ice storm hits so Wednesday, I'm off again. Wednesday morning, lucky me, I spike a 103.1 fever and come down with the flu, so there goes the rest of the week. So, I've had a lot of time off. Besides doctor-ordered rest, guess what I did?

I fired up my computer, loaded up my 3D art program: Bryce 3D (by Daz Studios) and CREATED. I created my fool head off. I was picturing one of the settings for my new fantasy series and trying to make a 3D rendering of it, and you know what? I had SO much fun doing it! That got me thinking: I am a Creative. God made me that way. In fact, to one degree or another, I believe God made us all creative. God did, after all, make us in His image. And He is The Creator. Ever seen a sunset or the forest after an ice storm? Nuff said.

But I believe it's abundantly clear that God has given some people a special talent for creating--and not just the talent--but the DESIRE to create. These people are CREATIVES. I started thinking about the special kind of nutty-ness that defines us creatives. Think about it this way: sculptors, architects, painters, artists, musicians, writers, etc.--we spend days, weeks, months, even years creating something that our audience will devour or experience for a relatively short time. I just got reader mail from a 12 year old who read my whole Door Within Trilogy in a weekend. A WEEKEND. Those three books took me a total of FIFTEEN YEARS to write, and WHOOSH, he's done in two days. Look at some of the brilliant architecture in the world, esp. Europe. Breathtaking---absolutely breathtaking. And yet the tour bus drops off people to look at it for a few hour, maybe, and off it goes. It's like your mom when she spends days working on Thanksgiving dinner only to have it gobbled* up in a brief feeding frenzy that would put a school of bull sharks to shame. WHOOSH, and it's over.

So, why do we creatives do it? Why spend so much passionate effort to create something so fleeting? I think the answer is multifaceted. Part of the answer, I've already mentioned: we were made to create. We create because we need to. It's in us and we need to let it out. We create because, if we didn't, part of us would go clinically insane. It's who we are. In his mega bestselling book, The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren talks about the importance of doing what "we were made to do." There is a satisfaction we feel when we create. If we didn't create, we'd walk around feeling like something was unfinished...and waiting.

But I think also, we create because we want to please others. Now, don't misunderstand me. My main goal in life is to please God. Jesus said the greatest command is to love God. But then what? Jesus said, love your neighbor. I believe that creativity in its many forms (art, music, fiction, etc.) shows love to out neighbor. People are encouraged, uplifted, inspired, provoked, and comforted by creativity. Why else do we hang paintings or matted photos in our homes? Why do we have little crafty knick-knacks on the shelf? Why do we feel moved when we hear a certain song? Art touches people. Imagine a world with an absence of creativity. What would that be like? Uhhggh. I don't like the looks of that picture either.

Our creative expression can be love and light to the world. And I don't just mean paintings of Jesus, praise hymns, and conversion stories. Nothing wrong with those things--all good. But any quality expression of our creativity. A painting of a sunset. A song about your wife. A good old adventure story. It all** shows love to the world. The only thing is that love and light have to be broadcast to other people. You can't hide a light under a basket. You can't keep your love to yourself. What good does that do? Sure, I can draw something and enjoy it myself. But why stop there. Maybe someone else would find joy in it as well.

But that's where another characteristic of the Creative can get in the way of our desire to create: we tend to be our own worst critics. Creative types tend to want their creation to be "just right." And that's a good thing to a degree. We don't want to publish a story that is poorly written. We don't want to record a song if the tune is discordant. But we cannot allow our own perfectionism or self-doubt to keep us from loving the world with our art! You might think that your work isn't good enough. But how will you ever know? If you don't have someone else experience your creative expression, how do you know if it's good? Sure, start small. Share it with one other person, a parent, a teacher, a trusted friend. But do share it. Get some feedback. Get some training. Practice. And then...share it some more!

I am convinced that RIGHT NOW, sitting in various places all over the world there are the following people: a) photographers and artist whose images *could* adorn galleries and homes and remind people of the greatness of God's creation. b) composers and songwriters whose melodies *might* lift thousands from the jaws of depression and give them hope. c) writers whose stories *could* change the lives of a generation. I have no doubt that there are thousands of such CREATIVES out there, but still dormant. And for every thousand of those whose works *might* have a sweeping impact, there are hundreds of thousands of people whose creativity *could* impact on a smaller, more local scale. Maybe the one kid at school who listens to your song, looks at your picture, or reads your story, maybe he was contemplating suicide…but won't go through with it because of your loving him though your creativity.

So, are you a CREATIVE? I bet you know if you are.

But just in case you don't, here's a little nonScientific/nonAuthoritative way of finding out. I put this in the format made famous by comedian Jeff Foxworthy and his "You might be a redneck if..."

So here is:

You might be a Creative if...***

1. You find yourself sizing people up for future characters.

2. You're watching a movie and think, "I could do better than that!"

3. You have rock-hard callouses on your fingers from clutching a drawing pencil, as well as, smudges all over the side of your pinky finger and palm.

4. You're left handed.

5. You just can't get that little melody out of your head.

6. You find yourself scrawling little story ideas on napkins, sticky notes, church bulletins, your arm, and...your little brother's arm.

7. You call your cell phone to leave yourself a story idea.

8. You can't wait for __________ to end so that you can go work on your story, song, etc.

9. You're angry because your computer's art program only works with 600 colors.

10. You find yourself laughing OUT LOUD at something you've written.

11. You nearly run off the road because you've got an idea that MUST be written down.

12. Your dream was so offbeat there just has to be a story in there somewhere.

13. The most wonderful thing you've ever seen is: a blank sheet of paper.

14. The most terrifying thing you've ever seen is: a blank sheet of paper.

AND FINALLY, you know you might be a CREATIVE if: You find yourself giggling like an idiot when you make something YOU KNOW IS GOOD.

I think it's time to take the basket off of our light. Don't you?

*pun intended.

**Like any good thing that God gives us, creativity can be misused. So art, music, fiction, etc. that leads people away from God, isn't cool.

***Official Disclaimer: If these things are not true of you, that does not necessarily mean you are NOT creative. These are just humorous reminders.


Shelby Marie said...

Am I a creative? I would classify myself as one...I just don't know how to describe it.
Yes, sometimes the most beautiful and terrifying thing I've ever seen is a blank sheet of paper.
I can never seem to go for one second without having some sort of melody or song in my head.
I always wish that school would hurry up and be over already so I can go home and write.
If I get a new idea out of the blue, I'll throw down whatever I'm doing and document it somewhere...even if it's my arm(lol)
I do indeed tend to size up the people I come in contact with just in case a character could come from something they do or say.
So, yes, I suppose I'm a creative.
Awesome post, Wayne!
Write On!!!
Shelby Marie

Lady Shyeloh said...

Wow! I really am a Creative. I have always told myself that I am not artistic or very creative, but I was sooooo wrong. Numbers 1,2,5,8,10,13,14 and the FINALLY all apply to me.

I always look for some cool characteristic in people for characters. Most of the people in my story are based on my class.
I often criticize movies even though I know I should just enjoy them.
I always have a song in my head.
I hate it when I'm in class or church and I come up with a great idea but can't write it down!
When I laugh about something I have written my friends think I'm nuts, except for my fellow author friend Greer. Well, she still thinks I'm nuts;)
I love seeing a blank sheet to write on, but sometimes I feel like it's too big.
A giggling idiot. That's me.

Thanks for the awesome post Mr. Batson. Get well soon.

-Lady Shye-

S. J. Deal said...

Yet another great post Wayne!

I'm most definitely a Creative. (Incidentally, driving a car is driving me nuts because I can't do much creating with it. I have to adhere to the set rules and principles and cannot drive in a "totally new fashion")

I do most of those things. I'm not left-handed, strictly speaking. I'm ambidextrous. :-D

I definitely need to start not hiding under a bushel however. That's a real problem of mine... I think something that Creatives can end up doing is equating their work with themselves. Any rejection of their work is a direct rejection of themselves.

I do nearly all those things on your test... :D

Hope you all are feeling better!


Elliot Reed said...

I definatly apply to more than half those rules! So many times I watch a movie that I've seen a millon times, and then an idea of what the character COULD have done just pops into my head, and how much better that could have turned out!

Great post!


aravis said...

Hey, I'm right handed! But, so many of the other characteristics fit me. It was actually encouraging, because I'm at a stage of my life when I don't know what I really want to do (I'm a pre-major). At least, I know I'll be happy if I'm creating.

Mackenzie said...

Wow. I fit into the WHOLE list. I must be creative!!! :D That makes me happy.

Anonymous said...

I giggle like an idiot some times....does that make me creative? Lol :P

Anonymous said... saddens me that I don't fit any of these...and I know I'm not as creative as I'd like to be. I guess God has another talent for me I havn't discovered.

James Somers said...

Very Cool Post WAyne--I was actually musing over this same idea, that we (created in the image of God) also enjoy Creating as the Lord does.

We consider them, labor over them and love them. As a writer I can relate to that nurturing instinct to birth that baby onto the page--to make it write.

I'd say there is one aspect of CREATING that we finite creatures can enjoy that you might think God couldn't--that elation and amazement we feel when our creation turns out better than we had hoped.
But I'm reminded how Jesus "marveled" at the faith of the Roman Centurion.

Perhaps we have a little more to consider: how we feel when our creations don't turn out the way we hope--the disappointment, heartache and desire to rescue it so that it can be all that we hoped.
This must be how God feels about mankind--we have been a disappointment, but God loves His creation enough to make the ultimate sacrifice so that it can be all that he means for us to be!

Sarmjornn said...

Yes to most of those but you missed one! You know you're creative leave your computer on so if that one idea you've been pondering comes up and you can sneak away long enough to get it down. :) I do that a lot.

***Flinn-fan-of-the-Twins*** said...

Oh my goodness. I am a scary Creative! LOL! There are so many characteristics of things that I do REGULARLY in that list! I had this series of dreams about the Door Within for more than a week, and in each dream, this one knight would appear. If he walked down the street as a clown I would recognize him. That guy has made it into one of my many stories. Often times I am in the middle of a conversation and something strikes me for writing. I usually scare the person I'm talking to by jumping and blurting out: Hey, do you have a piece of paper? QUICK!!!
Many other things mentioned I do. I didn't think I was that much of a creative, but I guess I am! LOL

S. J. Deal said...

By the way, nice work on the Mad Scientist. :D I love mad scientist.... *Get's sudden idea for a character*


fire phoenix said...

I have insanely weird dreams. Dreams that make people give me odd looks when I say, "I dreamt I was Gandalf in this certain church." I get lots of flying dreams too.
I'm not left handed.
Tunes get stuck in my head sometimes. Very annoying when trying to sleep at night.
I'm a Creative!

Araken said...

I think I can call myself a creative because I can not stop writing. I have a ton of notebooks at my house that I just keep jotting stuff down in. A lot of people think I'm weird, AND THEY'RE RIGHT! I write stuff in school when the teacher isn't looking, though I probably shouldn't say that. Anytime you want me, look for a guy buried beneath a pile of neon post-its, each one scribbled with an idea, dialog, picture, or a draft. It's so much FUN!!

everlastingscribe said...

I agree 100% with you m'lord, and would add that you'll find creative people in fields not readily associated with the arts.

People like Johann Kepler who discovered how the universe moves and wrote out the laws for the dance of the planets, people like Alexander Graham Bell who is credited with the invention of the telephone, and people like Harriet Tubman who led more than 1,000 people to freedom during one of the darkest periods of American History.

Creativity I think is a right of every last one of us, a right we inherit from our Creator, and one day we will have to give an account for how we used it.

So be encouraged! And continue to be creative in whatever field your heart loves the most!

Ian said...

I'm a creative.....anything following set facts is VERY ANNOYING to me, since I can't warp it in strange ways and make it into some sort of oddity from the deep confines of my twisted mind. I love writing, although I don't usually write down ideas when I get them....but I'm going to try to start, because tons of ideas are always cramming into my head and then falling out when the next load arrives...

And the one thing that is annoying me with my writing is that there are only so many words in the English language, and how slowly I have to set up some of my scenarios, such as one I am working on right now, which has so far taken up 15,000 words and I am still not to the good part! (you know, the part that will be REALLY fun to write!)

And about the dreams, I don't often tell people my dreams because they always seem to think I'm some sort of psycho :) Also, my dreams are too strange for me to even remember sometimes!

Araken said...

Sometimes I regret being a creative, 'cuz I'll be sleeping and an idea will come. It'll be like 1:30 in the morning, and I'll be scrambling to find a piece of paper to write the idea down. I bang my head sometimes trying to find the light switch. Ouch. But being a creative still rocks!

Lady Shyeloh said...

Sometimes I get an idea in the middle of the night too. And I bash my head (I have bunk beds).
But I will never regret being a Creative.

-Lady Shye-

Shelby Marie said...

Sometimes when I'm writing at school, I'll just randomly start laughing hysterically. I look up and every single person in the room is giving me this look that says, "What's your problem?"
I just shake my head and get back to work, though the smile still lingers on my face...
Write On!!!
Shelby Marie

Amy Browning said...

Wow Mr. B!

You have no idea how much I needed to read those words. :)

I AM a Creative and LOVE to Create. I had a breakthrough with my "book" over the weekend and can't stop thinking about how months of contemplating will actually form into a real live story. I have notecards as evidence. LOTS of note cards! (BTW - the note cards were your idea too.)

Thank you!

nick said...

Well, I can't drive, but I do giggle like an idiot. Wait, did I say that out loud?

aldwyn said...

I fit into most of those, other than the fact I can't drive and I'm right handed! Neat post! Got me laughing!

Evergreena said...

I love creativity!
What a fun blog! I have always loved creating things, but sometimes I feel that if I'm not making something that is classified as "christian" then it isn't God-honoring. However, your description was very helpful on this point! Thank you! I think I'll go create something... I've just got a story idea... and it made me giggle like an idiot...

oh, by the way, I'm not left handed, but I often will purposely use my wrong hand to write. It's fun!

Mike said...

First off, you don't have to be a lefty to be creative...I'm a creataive right handed person! :P
second, awEsome artwork, i tried using bryce a few times, and almost killed myself. Good job!
and third, where do you find bryce, and how much is it, and how good a computer you need to run it?

I guess i'm gonna hafta practice before i can top that...very nice!