A friend kindly tweeted me yesterday a quote to encourage me in my writing, which said: “You write because there is fire in your bones. You have got to do this whether anybody ever reads it or not”.
Whilst I appreciated fully the sentiment with which she forwarded this tweet to me, I felt a great unease about the implication in that statement: whether one has an audience or not, one must write and use their writing as an outlet for that fire, that passion, that message, truth that lies deep within them. My reply to this kind lady was “Writing is an art form which makes us feel through another person’s creation. No artist creates something to keep it hidden, a gift must be shared”.
I don’t believe that those of us who feel the absolute need to be creative, be it through a painting, a poem, a novel, a drawing, a sculpture, a song, an instrument, a performance, can create with the same integrity, intent and vulnerability, if we are fully aware that there is no recipient to the art we create. Art stems from an undeniable need to communicate something to the rest of the world, be it for their benefit or our own. Yes, ultimately, as we create art, we experience a moment of reckoning with ourselves, our fears, our longings, our hope, our frustrations, but I believe that being able to create something is a privilege, a tremendous gift from above, an opportunity to reach others where direct words or even actions may fail. I believe that there is a purpose to every gift; there is a responsibility inherent to every talent. For isn’t it in the ability to create something new, something powerful, something way beyond our mundane existence, that as humans we are able to best connect with our spirituality, that side of us which is so mysterious, unexplored, that dimension which remains hidden and yet is so apparent, so beckoning, so vital to our existence and how we relate to the world around us and each other?
It is through art that we depart from the natural and we step into the supernatural; we leave a temporal, ephemeral reality and we take a chance into a world of dreams, hopes and endless possibilities; a world where the optimum side of the human race fulfils its utmost potential and also a world where the most evil side of humanity is fully realised and visualised too. Art gives us the opportunity to take a glimpse of heaven as well as hell and as we undertake that journey, be it as the artist or the person who explores that work of art, we are able to connect with, explore and develop our innermost self, our own tendencies towards good or evil or both as is the case for most of us.
I am fully persuaded that creativity is a gift and as with every gift, with every good thing, its goodness and worth increases a hundred fold, if we are able to share it with others, if we offer it to others so that they too have access to that other dimension which is so elusive and at the same time so present in all of us. I cannot imagine an actor who would perform to an empty theatre, or a painter whose work gets exhibited in a room which is always empty just as I cannot comprehend the notion of a writer who puts his heart out on a piece of paper for all to see, only he is also expected to bear his soul with the same intensity and passion where there is not a single witness to benefit from such an introspective and didactic encounter.
Getting back to the quote at the beginning of this post, yes, I write because there is fire in my bones. I write because I feel called to do so. I write because it is in being able to create something outside of myself, which can only be attributed to myself, that I feel most akin, and closest to the God who created me, who put that fire in me in the first place. Perhaps it is worth considering for those who are believers and maybe more so for those who are not, that creativity is the vessel which allows us to break the boundaries of time, place, matter, proof and knowledge, for as we create we reach out into another world, a world where we can give free rein to that inner voice that whispers to us in the quiet of night, and the buzzle of daytime: we are called to a different existence: something more grandiose, something more beautiful, more perfect, more free.
It is almost as if lying deep within all of us there is knowledge of a far superior reality we feel called to fulfil and aspire to, and that knowledge cannot be suppressed no matter how hard we try to deny it in our everyday living. It has to surface somehow. Art is like bubbling magma under the surface fully aware that its sole purpose is to eventually burst out with uncontrollable magnitude into the surface and annihilate with it the certainty of anything that exists and is secure up to that point. Creativity challenges all of us from what we know into a world of what we might suspect exists but refuse to accept.