I recently became obsessed with the concept and fruition of creative source.
During my time as a writer, I’ve come across many philosophies articulating this idea of origin as it oscillates between the spiritual and the academic. What is voice? Can it be taught? Where does inspiration and creation come from? Is the excavation of ideas internal or external?
This has been the knife’s edge on which I walk as an artist, constantly mesmerized by an inspiring world and also fearful that the source will run dry for me eventually—a restrictive form of thinking that feels archaic but fundamental to my writing history.
This spring, I had the pleasure of reading two texts simultaneously, Rick Rubin’s The Creative Act: A Way of Being, and Issue 77 of The Snack. It’s an issue which I had little-to-no interaction with, except to write this letter, as I made my way through maternity leave and the disorientation and rediscovery of what I hold dear, boundless, and finite. And what a gift this series of events has been.
As I read through these Snack stories, lines of banter, turns of phrase, poetic license, and technical and creative prowess, I’m reminded that we live the creative life simply by interacting with the world around us—boundless and circular. Fear is only caustic to this idea.
Rick Rubin writes:
“To live as an artist is a way of being in the world. A way of perceiving. A practice of paying attention. Refining our sensitivity to tune in to the more subtle notes. Looking for what draws us in and what pushes us away. Noticing what feeling tones arise and where they lead.
Attuned choice by attuned choice, your entire life is a form of self-expression. You exist as a creative being in a creative universe. A singular work of art.”
In many ways, this is a letter to our friends in fresh, but also to our Snack creatives who are themselves works of art, creating art.
Watching this issue unfold, I can’t help but feel like a kid again, watching the lines in an Etch A Sketch appear seemingly out of nowhere as my mother turned the dials. Watching both the subjects of our stories and the writers themselves unfold on the page reminded me that the way we live our lives is a creative act, and the results of such an effort can become the story, the painting, the sculpture, the song.
What I am trying to materialize on the page is how joy, sensitivity, curiosity, and awareness are not the symptoms of source, but tools to tap its raw material. Stepping away from the page these past few months has allowed me this new perspective—which seems like such a given now—that the source is dependent upon us individually, even as we find inspiration and ideas outside of us, floating in an infinite rhythm.
Maybe it’s the relentless lack of sleep that these early days of motherhood have bestowed upon me that leave me uncommonly raw and self-conscious, but I’m acutely aware of how our lives are immediate pathways to source and subject. Story creation is merely the way we journey to reveal the light.
So, friends and colleagues, live your art and let us articulate it.
As Rubin says, “No matter what tools you use to create, the true instrument is you.”