On the value of the creative process...

Here I was again… standing over some sort of receptacle. Staring down at the results of yet another purge. A familiar place. This time it wasn’t ice cream or pasta, but rather a little bit of myself that I had allowed, for a small moment, to exist in the world. Not food. I had made something. A creation. Amateur art. And now, it was forever gone. Torn into small slivers of unrecognizable garbage. What once was art, could be described, at best, as  potential mulch. I breathed a small sigh of relief and then, using both hands, forcefully shoved the created thing further into the trash. No evidence could be left.

The overarching theme of my life can be summed up in one word: destroy.  I realize that destroy is not a synonym for "conceal" or "hide"... but in my life it has been. Destroying evidence of me trying to exert myself into the world. Destroying evidence of me trying to take up space I did not earn.

The opposite would be to create, yes? To take something that does not yet exist and release it into the world. I legitimately enjoy creating things and always have… working with my hands. Something about holding a pencil or marker and applying it to paper, unsure of exactly what will happen, fills my soul.

For the bulk of my life I have feared admitting that I am creative. I imagined telling others I had made something and then instantly allowed myself to picture the results... it always ended with others having expectations I could never meet. As a child I can remember filling notebooks with stories… holed up in my room, writing furiously, illustrating the pages. I wish now I had kept all of the stories I wrote throughout elementary school.  I even had a sweet teacher who would read them and edit them for me. Each story eventually found its way into the trash can. I remember the panic and anxiety I would feel just imagining someone finding one of these stories and reading them. What would they think of me? I had no business writing? Who did I think I was? Or worse… that they were good? That I had talent?

This has carried on for most of my life. Create. Destroy. Create. Destroy. So much art ripped to pieces in the name of shame and embarrassment. Cutting stories, song lyrics, poems and drawings into tiny strips of paper, just in case someone wanted to glue them back together.  The sense of security I felt watching the tiny strips fall into the wastebasket. It was almost cathartic to pour the mug of grease from the stove over the trash. Is it a good time admit maybe I went a little overboard?
Shouldn’t I have felt some sense of mourning? Some sense of loss? Instead, I felt relief. Thanking God I would never be found out. Thanking God that no one would ever know that I thought I was worth creating content to put out into the void.

I think maybe that’s why this space has been a secret for 3 years. I have almost deleted it several times… but what stopped me, is the blogs I have deleted in the past and the regret I now feel. I wish so deeply I could go back and read what I wrote… and try to do so objectively.

What I am wrestling with, now, is the question of creating for an audience. If there is no audience, is something worth performing? I always thought that something had to be approved of by an outsider, one with justified opinion, in order for it to be worthy of being created, of existing. Now, I am realizing, there are countless other benefits to creating, outside of having someone else approve of it. We have all heard or read stories of acclaimed writers receiving endless rejection letters before finally finding someone who believed in their story enough to let it be published. Or musicians, painters, dancers…

So much of my feelings about my art and its worthiness are tied to my own feelings about myself and my own worthiness and value. I have spent a lot of years relying on others to tell me I was okay… to tell me I was worthy and valuable. Rather than believing that worthiness and value are birthrights. I exist, therefore I am valuable. I exist, therefore I am worthy. The same is true of art. It is created, therefore it is valuable and worthy. Maybe not to everyone. But the process of creating was valuable and worthy.


  1. great post! it's a CONSTANT struggle for me to believe that my creativity is worthy even if no one pays attention to it or voices appreciation.


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