Earlier today I received a text from my friend Sudge, an ‘I’ve-got-no-paper-write-this-down’ idea for a writing project he’s planning. This was cool; it’s been a long time since I had that, instead trusting my increasingly sieve-like brain to remember everything (the result: I don’t remember everything).
And then Doctor Who on Saturday was about… Well, a lot of things, but a particular scene stands out – the Doctor and Amy are lying in a field, looking up at the stars with Vincent van Gogh, who starts to describe how he sees the night sky… which then morphs into an animated version of his Starry Night painting. It’s a great moment, and says something about the joy of creativity – seeing something differently and somehow communicating that to other people.
Creativity is hardwired into human beings – at some point we starting painting on cave walls and we haven’t really stopped since (and I think it might be significant that the first person in the Bible to be directly inspired by the Holy Spirit wasn’t a priest or a prophet but a craftsman). It’s just something we do – Vincent van Gogh at one end of the spectrum, us doodling on a notepad at the other, random singing and whistling, an elegant piece of code, an engineer macgyvering something, whatever. The ability to look at a situation from right angles has not only enriched countless human civilisations through art, but also allowed them to survive in the first place.
But here’s the thing – most of us aren’t going to be great and renowned artists, hanging in the Guggenheim long after we’re dead. I personally will not make the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (if I do, it will be a sign of the apocalypse and you should all start fleeing to the mountains). It doesn’t work like that, but here’s the other thing – it doesn’t matter. Create anyway. That dusty old guitar in the back of your closet? Start playing it (Rock Band probably doesn’t count). Draw something, write a story, blog, program, invent, build, compose, act, direct, dance, sculpt, sing. If you’re too busy to do any of that, find a way to get less busy, because I swear, one day you’ll hear the echoes of the stories you never wrote, and you’ll wish you had (or at least I do – sometimes I worry about how many people actually read this thing, other times I realise it doesn’t matter, it’s the process of getting words on the screen that matters, regardless of how random and disjointed and uninformed they are).
And hey, if you’ve written or painted or made something, and you want to show it off, I’ll post a link to it. It may only guarantee that three people look at it, but hey, it’s an audience, right? Because if it was worth doing, it’s worth someone else seeing that you’ve done it. And who knows, it might speak to them, make them see things differently, re-enchant the world around them – and that’s a pretty good reward in itself.