A few people have said to me of late, “I don’t have a creative bone in my body!”
So many layers to unpack.
Often people say this sort of thing if I speak for longer than 1.6 seconds about my writing, which I have generally learned to avoid doing because it’s like when the physicians in my extended family start reminiscing about their med school cadavers. Talking about the parts of writing that are recognizable in a capitalist system are fine: “I have sold six stories.” “I received a grant.” If I can eke out a decent elevator pitch for a story or book, cool. But talking about process? Yeah, you gotta read the room.
It’s only that sometimes they ask. “How do you come up with the idea for your stories?”
And then I sort of do this thing where I try to answer, and then after 1.6 seconds, there’s usually a shake of the head and a smile with glazed over eyes and they drop the line, “I don’t have a creative bone in my body.” A lot of times people say that with their hands held outward, as if to ward off any suggestion that they get too deeply involved because that could turn out like Artex the horse in the swamp of sadness.
So many layers, so much unpacking. For one thing, folks have fallen for the myth that talent is this binary thing, wherein you have it or you don’t. Also they mistake creativity for quality output, when it’s not, it’s process not product. Also hearing about something foreign to their daily lives makes many people feel like they’ve pooed in their pants.
Mostly, though, I’ve been trying to figure out how to respond. Conversationally, it’s really cutting a person off at the knees.
So here it is, my answer to the creativity bone. I’ll make a QR code and hand it out, you are welcome to do the same.
“I don’t have a creative bone, either. It’s a skill I’ve worked at. Creativity is just what happens if you stop wondering for 1.61 seconds if everything will turn out okay in the end.”
My story “Mercy Rides Free” is now available to read for free, aptly, at Cossmass Infinities. This one goes out to all the caretakers of headstrong 7-year-olds everywhere!