There can be no real creativity without taking risks. Of course, there are a lot of good things a person can do who doesn’t want to take risks as well. Study, practice, developing skills, learning about relevant things – this doesn’t have to feel risky not least because we never have to share it.
There is a school of thought that says we should create purely for ourselves, driven by our own passion and inspiration and to hell with what anyone else thinks. Many creators we now think of as great were not valued in their own lifetimes. There’s another school of thought that says a piece is not complete until it has an audience and that the audience is co-creator of the finished work. Without someone to interact with a piece, an important part is missing. This is more how I feel about things.
When we set out to create, the idea of impacting on another human tends to be part of the mix. We want to move them, and we’ll probably know how we want them to feel. Write a horror novel and you want to scare your reader, and maybe gross them out and give them nightmares. Write erotica and you want to give them some hot flushes, and so on and so forth. Most of us, at heart, want to be liked, and want what we make to be liked, because that’s validating. And on a practical note, people who like what you do are more likely to pay for it, and this leads to being able to eat. Living only for your muse is fine if someone else is paying the bills, but most of us don’t have that option.
No matter how good you are, there will always be someone who doesn’t like it. That’s inevitable. Many people deal with the pain of bad reviews and negative feedback by having some people they trust, who like them. It’s a lovely thing to create for people who get what you do and are going to enjoy it. Of course, finding those people can be a messy trial and error process. How much risk can you take on that journey? How much negative feedback can you bear? Is there a point when a person should admit defeat and quit? Or should we never give up? I don’t know.
I come back to this blog, always. I’ve been through more cycles of despair than I care to count – it’s really tough in the creative industries at the moment without any personal angst on top of that. I have plenty of personal angst, too. I’ve wobbled repeatedly, and every time I’ve wobbled, people have come back and asked me to keep this blog going. It’s not my most creative work, it’s not a means to anything else, but it’s wanted, and I would rather put something wanted into the world than not. There are still days when blogging feels like a risk – too much exposure, too much vulnerability – but it’s useful, and that keeps me going.
So, thank you to those of you who keep coming back, keep commenting, keep saying that you find this useful. When I can’t write anything else, I push myself to write this, and there are times when it’s the only even slightly creative thing I do. I believe firmly that every human should have the right and the space to create, but that’s difficult unless we hold those spaces for each other. Thank you for turning this space into something meaningful for me.