Charlotte Ashlock

Stop Laughing at Creative Adults

November 13, 2014 My Life Writing 5

creative-adultsChildren are praised for their creativity. (“Of course you can be a ballerina, honey! You’re the best dancer in the world!”)

Adults are told not to waste time on creative pursuits. (“Remember when I told you that you could be a ballerina? IT WAS A LIE! There are only room for a handful of ballerinas at the top, and they all kill themselves doing it!”)

There are downsides to both messages. My parents told me when I was a kid, “You’re going to be the next JK Rowling!” I wish they hadn’t done that; it sprang from fondness, but it was unrealistic and silly.

But the flipside of the coin, the negativity, is also bad. To be honest, it’s incredibly uncomfortable to have a serious creative writing hobby as an adult. I hid my hobby for a long time, and I still mention it with a certain inner trepidation. I live in dread of the “haha isn’t she cute thinking she can do something,” response.

The basic problem here, is we only value creative ability if the people are the best in their field. When it comes to art, being anywhere but at the top is considered not worth doing. We do not apply this to other fields, only to art. (Imagine if we told engineers that they were frivolously wasting their time, unless they got to work on the Eiffel Tower.)

I think most people are happier for having some creative pursuit in their lives. But we discourage it, because we think only pursuits that make money are “real” pursuits. (And in creative work, usually only the best make money.)

Being creative is like exercising- if you don’t get to do it, you feel like a piece of shit. But it’s also really hard. It requires encouragement and will. So everyone stop measuring its value in dollars.

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Liked that?  If you liked what I’m saying here, you’ll probably enjoy this brilliant video by Garrett Robinson– it will help you laugh off your frustration at how people react to artists.

 

5 Responses

  1. Excellent article and well put. There are only a handful of my close friends who support me in my writing. They support me because they know it is a part of me that makes me whole. Makes me happy. Makes my life worth living. So what if I don’t make a living off it… I live doing it.

  2. Daniel Ashlock says:

    Apologies. Some of the stories you wrote when you were young seemed to justify the conclusion that you would be a leading fantasy author. The dragon with a linguisting understanding of the fundamental nature of reality still sticks with me.

  3. - says:

    I love this article and agree 100%. I think with people embracing Geek Culture it’s eroding, somewhat, but perhaps only in certain fields.

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