Creative Cliff Edge

The last week has been a serious archaeological dig into my creative past, mining for amber nuggets.

Sorry–too metaphorical?

This question has been spiralling on repeat in my mind: what’s it mean to be ‘a creative’? Is that even a thing–a noun and not just an adjective?

At school I so envied friends who possessed a fixed gaze on their professional future—my best-friend determined to work in medicine, others went into law, a few dedicated their lives to social-work and public service, many made a success of being stay-at-home parents, some travelled the world.

Panic stepped in quite early because I wanted to do anything and everything creative; however, my wheels perpetually spun in place because I could not refine my choices. I wished to paint, to sing, to dance, to act, to design, to illustrate, write prose and photograph as if I were a Renaissance artist being bankrolled by a wealthy monarch. How indulgent does this sound?

And yet—I knew I would have to pound my shoes on the pavement hard to earn a practical living. I did that. I worked hard yet never slept because, in those wee hours when I should have lay under a heavy duvet and restored my energy for the next working day, I was filling sketchbooks and designing cards and logos, writing books and fiddling on piano.

“You’re a creative,” someone at university remarked in the pub one afternoon. “You’re wasting your time studying law.”

Yep, I knew that. But it was the first time I’d ever heard this term and it felt a revelation. A creative. It sounded like a real job. I’d not seen any tick-box or application form for this.

‘No!’ The critical creature anchored on my shoulder shouted into my ear. ‘It sounds like a professional dosser. Someone on the dole who drinks like a fish and starves for their art. A life of self-indulgence.’ Oh, how that nasty, cutting voice can undermine one’s lofty hopes.

I envied people I regarded as true artists, not dabblers like myself. Despite my successes when I did take the artistic risk, my confidence to go full-art-monty was missing-in-action.

The university wrote me a letter. It said I was taking too many classes and had to focus on my degree. Yep again—I was strolling into painting class instead of ‘Philosophy of Law,’ I snuck into the back of lectures about Chekov and somehow earned a top mark in ‘Clowning.’ But I saw their point—I was just hungry to learn, swimming against the tide of what I thought was a practical path in life and ignoring the direction in which I really wished to flow. This is not a unique story—many could spin this yarn and mirror my tale. In no way to I brandish myself unique.

But here I am. Blathering on. Heart-spilling to the world…or the one or two people inadvertently clicking onto this blog.

Why? Because after decades of juggling practical with my creative passions, the decision to choose one over the other is now. Or never do it. Do it now. [Gulp]

Each time I’ve painted a picture or created a logo, it’s been a success. But still I have thought: I’m not a designer. When I had my first novel accepted, I panicked and hid it away. 

Welcome to Imposter Syndrome! And when people bought my cards or commissioned my photos, I was pleased as punch. I produced the goods then squirreled myself, my camera and my brushes back to my domestic hide-out. The next morning, I would emerge in power suit and whisk fingers adeptly across a keyboard and my comrades were none the wiser that I was indeed the purveyor of polished artistic goods.

‘Take the plunge and do it full time,’ folk-in-the-know told me.

I agreed with them. But only when hiding under my duvet.

Life, however, now has other plans for me. The duvet is being yanked aside and I’m flinging out the door sporting a t-shirt with Crazy Creative emblazoned across the chest. Thank goodness that top still fits!

I am grateful for the support given to me, for the businesses who believe in my work and the customers who come back.

You won’t see me flogging my wares here but starting this blog strikes as perfect place to muse on the balance of inward reflection melded with outward expression. A creative outlet at my fingertips…much better than ogling a spreadsheet.

Hello, fellow creatives. Are you donning your t-shirt today?

Come join me on the cliff—the water is warm.


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