Recently, a family member sent me a text that stated she had come across a book I was published in back in 2002. I haven’t seen or thought about that book in quite some time, but her text prompted me to go dig it out. I found my publication and reread it for the first time in at least 10 years. At the time of publication, I was just 16 years old. I had written this insightful poem threaded with fancy words and laced with extended metaphor. I found myself in a slight state of shock. How did I come up with this? How in the world did I have so much insight about this subject at 16 years old?
The truth is, I’ve been doubting myself (as a creative writer) for quite some time. In recent years, I haven’t been able to write creatively without struggle or frustration. It’s become more of a chore than a joy. It has become hard. Much harder than it once was. Because of this, I’ve focused my energies on writing cheesy “How to’s” and simple articles for online outlets. These are easy for me. They come without much effort and without much thought. These articles will suck the creativity out of my soul if I don’t begin challenging myself a little more. I had convinced myself that if I just wrote something, anything, everyday that I would be the writer that I want to be. I was wrong.
That text from my aunt reawakened my curiosity in my creativity. I had shoved it away in a box surrounded by steel walls in the back of my mind. Life happened. I have a full-time job and a child. I’m dealing with an illness. I was in school. I thought I didn’t have time to write creatively anymore, yet I pursued a degree in creative writing (ha). The truth is, I have and will always be a creative writer.
The brilliant and articulate Maya Angelou said, “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use it, the more you have.” I’m finding the opposite true as well. The less you use it, the harder it is to come by. Poem verses, character descriptions, articulate sentences used to pop up in my brain all the time. They’d wake me up in the middle of the night, flash through my brain while I was riding in the car or sitting in a math class. I now realize this happened because I was constantly writing. Constantly using my creativity.
I may not have the luxury of ample free time. I may be tired. I, can still write. I carry a notebook and pen in my purse at all times. I have lunch breaks and apps and time after my son goes to bed. I spend too much time on Facebook or Twitter or thinking about what I need to do next week or wondering if my husband folded the pile of laundry I’d left on the couch.
I did not choose writing. It chose me long ago, when I sat at a small writer’s desk in front of my window, crafting words into sloppy sentences and verses and then re-crafting them into works of art. I know the process. I always have. The creativity lives within me. It just needs a little reawakening. Today, I will press on. I will knock down the walls and burn the box where my creativity has been stowed away so that it can come forth again. I encourage you to do the same. Life, does indeed happen. And it is that life that gives us the fuel and the material we need to keep on– to keep writing.
Photo credit: flickr.com user Ilena Gecan