What is creativity? To me, creativity is equal parts pain, pleasure, hard work and sweat, dreams and visions. It’s magic. It’s science. It’s a visceral part of me, nestled somewhere deep in my chest, beating alongside my heart. Living a non-creative life would not be living.
I think my parents fostered this in me. My mother was always making something: knitting, cooking, canning, baking, sewing – you name it, I swear she could do it. And if we wanted to learn, she’d take the time to teach us. My father wrote my mother poetry from the submarine he was stationed on, sending his love on lines of words that she still has framed on her dresser. And they both encouraged us to read.
I’m not saying it was easy – it wasn’t. We were poor, even if I didn’t always realize it – raising four kids on an enlisted man’s salary isn’t easy. But we were rich in the things that mattered: love, creativity, imagination. There were libraries, museums, parks and beaches to explore, stars to count, berries to eat. Long summer afternoons spent making magic. And they always encouraged me to write.
The pain comes from many places. I’ve had two chronic illnesses since I was in college, and I pretty much live in pain a lot of the time. But that pain allows me to really KNOW my body – I know what I can eat, I know what I can do. And I know how it feels when I hurt things. This makes me very good at breaking things on my characters, which feeds into all sorts of things. (Hey, I write dark fantasy and horror a lot. This is good to know.) Also, I know how good it feels when the pain goes away, even if it’s fleeting. Especially because it’s fleeting.
Because life is fleeting. Life is beautiful, and then it ends and it breaks your heart, and yet you keep going back, because you know how much you’ll like it before the pain comes. Or maybe you’ll enjoy the pain too, because the pain reminds you that you’re alive.
And being alive is everything. Because only the living can be creative.