When I think about creativity, or the impulses to create, and how there is a certain bravery or cowardice involved, I think of forest fires. You see, my cousins were fire fighters for the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma. I love it when they regale me with stories of their adventures and sometimes these are about disaster relief, like following Hurricane Katrina, and other times they are about fighting large forest fires in Colorado or California. They tell me, “If the wind catches the flames and rushes the fire toward you, you have to decide: are you going to run through the flames?”
On the other side of the fire is safety. But you have to have a working knowledge of how fire thinks and the natural elements and maybe even the cosmos.
Creativity is the same, or why we create. I think of this stuff often. Usually in early morning hours when I’m drinking my coffee. But this morning I thought about creativity and how to create strong fiction. I thought about being vulnerable and telling on yourself. This made me think of artists having to face the worst parts of themselves.
I don’t know if this is an act of bravery or an act of cowardice. It seems I’m creative out of survival and in coping with the traumas of life I create. I play with my toys and pretend the world isn’t falling apart. But in that pretend I’m also facing the thing I’m hiding from. As I write or play guitar or paint on canvas or sing a song I have to confront the trauma in order to be my most creative.
For the story to be perfect, I have to be honest about who I am and what I was and who I’m becoming. I have to tell on myself. I have to confront not only those clichéd demons but more importantly my victimhood.
I’m running into the flames, whether out of instinct or awareness, I know on the other side of the flames there’s safety. But is it an act of bravery or cowardice? Am I running into the flames to save myself?
Nonetheless, either way, I create.