The recent protests, climate changes and mounting COVID-19 deaths have left most of us traumatized. What is happening to our world? How do we respond? And worst of all, does our work matter?
Don’t succumb to despair. Keep creating. It’s the way forward. Here are five reasons why it’s important to stay creative.
Reason #1 – Art Survives
Political unrest fluctuates. Wars are won and lost. Lives are shattered by disease and despair. But literature, film and art spawned by turmoil survive. That’s why it is important to persevere—even if we can’t see the light at the end our dark tunnels.
We are the chroniclers. We can preserve the real issues, the real history and the real personal stories that might get lost in translation by biased media and censoring bodies.
But if we don’t capture it as it happens, we will lose the impact of those truths.
So we have to keep creating no matter what.
Reason #2 – Art Educates
The way out of most contentious situations is not fighting. And it’s not spouting opinion. The solution is education. We must see the blank spots in our vision and do our best to widen our perspectives by filling the blanks with truth.
Creatives are naturals at perspective. We research. We see both sides of a situation. We create characters to portray the human condition that an audience can relate to.
If we do our best to portray life as it is for real people and not succumb to stereotypes and bias, we just might open the eyes of our audiences. People don’t read textbooks as much as they read novels or watch films. We can educate with our creative work.
Reason #3 – Art is Power
Creatives have so much power. Leaders may come and go. Civilizations can rise and fall. But beloved books, movies and art remain standing. Our power to affect the human psyche is staggering.
But we have to make sure we use our power for good.
We have to be cognizant of our biases. We have to strive to represent the world in a balanced way. For me, that means writing in under-represented people and issues. But how can I do that if I live in a bag of white bread? I have to educate myself.
I don’t have any concept of what most races of color deal with on a day to day basis. I thought I knew. I’m sensitive, right? But I have no idea…
I vow to seek education so that I can educate others.
Reason #4 – Art Can Inspire Change
I got a review once from a person who scored my book very low. Their reason? “I don’t really care for paranormal books.” Why, then, did they bother to read my book and judge it purely on the basis of their preferences?
If you judge with bias, you judge unfairly.
The same thing is happening to writers of color in a national writing group I belong to—but on a much larger scale. This organization recently imploded because of an insensitive graphic shown on the cover of the monthly magazine, censorship of posts in a forum (restriction of free speech by privileged moderators who considered the person’s posts inflammatory) and failure to recognize writing excellence in the RITA awards because those of privilege were doing the judging.
People of color do not win awards in this contest. Why?
Maybe story lines written by people of color don’t resonate with the judges, or the language doesn’t align with the preferences of the judges, or maybe the writing just isn’t good enough. But entrants will never know for sure.
If you are judged by your “peers” and consistently get low marks, you might begin to think you are a bad writer. How can you know whether the fault lies with your work or with the judges?
The subjective world of writing is tough enough without having to surmount unspoken and systemic personal biases just to get on the playing field.
I’m glad the group imploded. Changes are now being made at the core level, and the group will survive.
Perhaps it is an example of what could happen in the United States. Perhaps what we are witnessing today are the birthing pains of a new and better nation.
Reason #5 – Creating Can Keep You Sane
Long ago, a good friend gave me a book about Gerald and Sara Murphy, who were chums of F. Scott Fitzgerald. The small book is entitled “Living Well is the Best Revenge.”
That title sticks in my mind like a mantra.
Life is tough. Life throws us traumas and dramas and deep disappointments. We can either give in to the darkness and wither away or we can rise above it by continuing to create something worthwhile.
I tell friends and colleagues that writing is like a mental illness. If I don’t write, I feel unhinged and adrift.
If I didn’t create, I would fall into the morass of darkness that we are living in right now.
But I refuse.
For me, Writing Well is the Best Revenge.
Let’s keep creating.
About the Author
Patricia Simpson is an award-winning author from San Francisco. She has been published by TOR, HarperMonogram and Silhouette Shadows. Currently, she is enjoying creative freedom as an indie author. Learn more about her latest series, The Londo Chronicles, at patriciasimpson.com/series/londo-chronicles.