In November 2020, I started writing novel four. It’s based on an idea I’ve had for a long time, and when I talk to friends about story ideas, this is the one they always like the sound of best. Provisionally titled How To Escape, it is, among other things, about creativity.
I have a difficult relationship with creativity. I have written stories, poems, songs all my life but it was not something I was ever encouraged to do.
Maybe I just wasn’t any good at taking the hint!
(And a self depreciating comment like that is the result of a life of not being encouraged to be creative).
Could I Make Good Art*?
I have found that people tend to assume that if they know you, then they find it hard to believe that you are unlikely to be able to write anything good.
The attitude tends to be “Only famous people make good art and write good books, and I don’t know anyone famous. You’re not famous, and I know you, so you can’t have written a good novel.”
Consequently, a very common comment I get when friends read my novels is “Do you know, I actually really enjoyed it.”
This lack of faith in my creativity has been a common theme throughout my life. I distinctly recall, age 17, two female friends listening to me play them a song that I had written. Afterwards, they said they liked it (again, with a tone of surprise), and asked me “Did you make that up yourself?”
I was so hurt that they could not bring themselves to use the word ‘write’. ‘Make it up’ somehow robbed the creative process of its glamour.
As a consequence, I never felt that I had the right – the ‘permission’ – to be creative and to express myself.
Just Be Creative
So if, like me, you sometimes struggle with the idea of being creative, maybe you secretly feel you do not have permission to do something that you enjoy which has no real purpose, my suggestion is this.
Do it anyway.
Being creative is something I came to realise that I need to do. It’s not because I want to make money or to be applauded (although nice comments and reviews are very much appreciated!).
Chris Budd lives in Somerset with his wife and two children. He plays guitar, reads lots of books and graphic novels, and spends far too little time watching cricket. In between all this, Chris likes to think a lot and write a little.
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