Why Do I Create?

Passion n. (ˈpaSHən)

  1. Strong and barely controllable emotion, 2. A state or outburst of strong emotion, 3. Intense sexual love, 4. An intense desire or enthusiasm for something, 5. A thing arousing enthusiasm.

Why do I create?

It’s a heavy question with an important answer. I was recently asked this.

“I don’t know,” I said. I stared at the blank page. You know, Hemingway found it trickiest to tackle the blank page. He also said it was easy; all you need to do is bleed. He even said it would help you to empathize with God. Then again, he also killed himself with his favorite gun.

That went dark. I digress.

I came to the conclusion that I could list every reason I heard from others, but couldn’t pinpoint my own, and I found this troubling. I mean, I’ve devoted a large chunk of my life to writing and creating. My dad writes and my mom paints and makes ceramics. All of my grandparents have written something. It runs in my blood, right? Surely I can choose someone else’s reason. I mean, I have to know. I just have to.

 

Reasons Other People Gave That Aren’t Mine (or ROPGTAM):

  1. They didn’t have anything better to do.
  2. They don’t want to be forgotten.
  3. Religion.
  4. Politics.
  5. Saving the world.
  6. Passion.
  7. Money.
  8. Fame.

 

I had to think long and hard about this. Despite my best efforts, I drew a blank. Then I was scared; worried, really.

I remember meeting with editors/designers from the Block Island Times in 2013 to “interview” for an internship. I only ever wrote two things for them. One was about what the young people were doing over the summer, and the other was about people’s dogs. Turns out Block Island dogs have great longevity, and some internships fizzle out during busy seasons.

Two women sat across from me, blank faced. I knew their credentials made them true professionals. I was sweating. My throat was dry, and my palms were wet.

“So,” one of them said, looking down at my printed out resume, “seems like your background is in creative writing. Why do you want to intern here? Doesn’t look like the kind of place you’d want to work.”

She wasn’t wrong. I wasn’t prepared.

“Well, to be honest, I don’t care what I write. I just want to write. I have to write.”

“Good answer,” the other said.

It was a brief moment of clarity for me in the midst of a panicked response. You wouldn’t have gotten a better answer out of me with torture.

It came to me that a lot of people write or paint as a tool for a passion or reason they have. I write because I like it. It’s me migrating to a page. And here I am, doing it again.

I always wanted to give excuses. Like my dad was the one to tell me I should apply to MFA programs, but that was because I didn’t know what the next step was. I didn’t have a plan. He had started a low-res program, but ended up dropping out of it. I hesitated to finish my applications, because I was uncertain like I was starting this piece. Knowing what I know now, I needed the program, and I would do it again. I don’t have good excuses or reasons, just the truth.

 

What’s yours?

 

Nathan

 

 

 

 

*Image from http://cebutte.ucanr.edu/4-H_Program/Rainbow_Craft_Day_/
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