Creativity and Family Ties

Do you have certain expectations of holiday celebrations with family?  I have the ones that I’m resigned to (a lecture from my sister and a temper-tantrum from my mom’s boyfriend), ones I expect (cooking together, eating too much, watching movies, visiting friends and relatives) and ones I hope for.  This past Christmas was no exception, covering all items on the checklist.

I was also listening to BIG MAGIC: CREATIVE LIVING BEYOND FEAR by Elizabeth Gilbert (who also wrote EAT, PRAY, LOVE) and read by the author.  She emphasizes the difference between living creatively and expecting creativity to provide a living.  If you truly love something, you fold it into whatever else you’re doing to support yourself and honor your responsibilities.  You find or make the time for it.  And you practice every day even when it isn’t easy.  You don’t have to give up just because it isn’t working and you don’t expect rewards.  They’re a bonus that may or may not happen.  If being creative isn’t making you happy, you may have unrealistic expectations rather than just finding the activity itself rewarding.

I am attempting to return to my writing practice.  I am one of those people who start stories and novels, but never finish them.  I am going to take Ms. Gilbert at her word, i.e. that it is more important to finish something than to try to be perfect.  I want to enjoy it and I really can if I don’t constantly edit myself.  However, there’s a tension between what I write and what inspired it.  How much can I worry about offending someone or revealing “too much?”  I think I’ve got to worry less about what others’ think.  I need to be oblivious and write about everything.  I can, after all, mark some writing private or only make them available with a password.

The bottom line is that I can’t control how people react.  I can’t command their responses.  I may not even be able to predict them.  I can only write and not worry about being appreciated, ignored or judged.  I can only keep doing my own thing and let others do the same.

Click here for another interesting (and related) topic from Elizabeth Gilbert written for Oprah!