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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.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


If you've visited Enter the Door Within often, you may have just noticed the little iPod music player in the sidebar and the cool theme music. That music is a theme for Isle of Swords (and Isle of Fire) written and performed by 14 year old reader named Jon. Can you say, super talented?

Well done, Jon!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

New Door Within Forum!

Door Within MEGA-fan Josh Lowe has kindly set up a very (VERY), did I mention, very? COOL Door Within forum for readers to get together and talk about the books--and all sorts of things. It just takes about two minutes to register and The Realm is wide open.

Come join today. Here's the Link: New Door Within Forum

If you are one of the first 100 Door Within readers to sign up, I'll enter you in a drawing for a free SIGNED COPY OF ISLE OF FIRE, due out this August!

By the way, I think Josh is looking for some help naming things, so get over there an lend your immense creative skills.

And a random pondering: If Lord of the Rings fans are called Ringers, what do we call Door Within Fans? Doorers--uh, no. Glimpsers? Realmers? A little help?