The Courage to Create

Weary of the noise that passes for news online, I have been seeking out alternative material, mostly blogs. I find it so heartening to see what wealth we share with one another, what inspiration. The literary/art blog that never fails to inspire me is Terri Windling’s Myth and Moor (see the link to the bottom left of this page), and I always find something to enjoy on The Millions, a book industry blog (also linked). Yesterday I rediscovered a site I’d forgotten, DailyGood (dailygood dot org), offering an inspiring interview with Elizabeth Gilbert (by Chantal Pierrat, syndicated from originmagazine dot com). I wanted to share this bit (and I think both sexes can relate to at least parts of this):

CP: What do you think the world needs from women right now?

EG: I think the world needs women who stop asking for permission from the principal. Permission to live their lives as they deeply know they often should. I think we still look to authority figures for validation, recognition, permission.

I see women who have this struggle between what they know is right, what they know is necessary, what they know is healthy, what they know is good for them, what they know is good for the work that they need to do, what they know is good for their bodies, what they know is good for their families—all too often ending that statement with the upturned question mark: “If it’s okay with everyone?” Still asking, still requesting, still filing petitions for somebody to say that it’s all right. I think that, myself included, that has to be dropped before we can take our place in the way that we need to and the world needs us to.

The best and most powerful things that I’ve done in my life were when I decided that I don’t … need somebody to tell me that I can do it. To just go and make it myself, do it myself, build it myself, do the project first and not bother along the way to get the requisite paperwork. That requires faith. Primarily it requires a faith in the condition that you are allowed to exist. You are here and you are allowed to be here and therefore you are allowed to make decisions about yourself and the people in your life; rather than sort of backing up and making sure it’s okay with everybody at every turn.

I think this is particularly crucial for both sexes regarding art. It takes great courage to spend the hours, days, weeks, years it requires to complete a book, a painting, a song, a poem, whatever it is we are creating, never knowing whether it will contribute to our livelihood. Some people call us fools for hoping to make a living with our art. Some think it should be free to all.

In moments of doubt I will always be grateful to Neil Gaimon for the commencement speech he gave at the University for the Arts in 2012, in which he encouraged the graduating class to “Make good art.” (It’s easily found on You Tube.)

Is that enough to inspire you today? Now go for it!

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