A way with worlds: 29 – Why are we doing this? by Steven Savage of Seventh Sanctum

A few columns ago, I wrote about “Timeline Based Writing, which works in the following way:

It’s been nearly a year since I started “A Way With Worlds,” and I figured that for the anniversary, I’d get philosophical.

For a year, I’ve written about creating worlds and populating them, on writing about them and exploring them. You, my readers, have written and planned and crafted and told tales in the last year.

So, why did I do it? Why do you do it? Why are we spinning worlds and universes? What’s the point?

Well, I’ve asked myself why I write and why I write this column, and, ideally (note, ideally) why people write and create. What is it, at the core, that motivates us and makes us happy, what is an artist when you get down to it?

So, without further ado, I celebrate my sort-of-anniversary with a hideously introspective warm-and-fuzzy examination.

It’s been a year. I’ve earned it.

EXPRESSION:
Creating is what I do. I imagine any artist understands this, at heart if not in words.

Creating is human. Creating is like breathing or eating or reproducing. Creating my column, writing my stories, is me. Recently I took up learning how to draw because I wanted to; it felt good, and what I could do with it felt good (even if I’m a long way from it looking good).

Sometimes, we make writing or art into a job, a chore, a demand. We drain it of its naturalness, of ourselves. That’s not worth it. That may produce more “product,” but its not as satisfying.

Our creativity is not separate from us, it is us. An expression of who we are.

So if people ever tell you you shouldn’t create, or ask you to justify your creations, tell them to justify the rain falling or the wind blowing. Those things don’t need justification, and neither do you.

I don’t think I have ideas. I think ideas have me.

COMMUNICATION:
Expression is great. But sharing is part of an artist’s life as well.

We’re social beings, and communicating ideas is part of that. Our creativity is something too much fun not to share with people.

This is a difficult area – to some, communicating art is as much fun as creating it. To others, there are barriers in skills and personality to sharing creations. It’s not easy, and it can be frustrating. Shyness, social position, and lack of communication skills can be a barrier.

We also fear communicating because we’re afraid of having something as intimate as our creativity criticized. I find that when we keep in mind that creativity is us, a part of us as real as the sky or the ground, it’s easier to communicate. People may not like what we do, and they’re welcome to live with it.

It also helps to remember that communication is easier when we treat it as a creative endeavor as well, when we do it and play with it and experiment and forge new ideas. New ways to display our stories, new ways to show art, new ways to connect.

TAKING IT ALL TOO SERIOUSLY:
There is an element about creativity that’s all too common and all to ignored.

Taking things too seriously.

Of course we know of other people who take things too seriously, can’t stand criticism, don’t like some things at a psychopathic level. We know about them. We probably wish they’d lighten up, and sometime we wish they’d go away. We don’t want to hear about what they hate or like in minute, self-righteous detail.

Ourselves on the other hand . . .

Well, it’s easy to realize others take things too seriously, and sometimes difficult to admit we do it.

Don’t take yourself too seriously – because you have to be the one person who can truly know yourself, and if you can’t laugh at yourself, you are in serious trouble. If you take yourself too seriously, writing will be a burden, forever overshadowed by your own neuroses. If you take yourself too seriously, your ability to communicate will be stalled by fear, pretension, and arrogance.

Thus, don’t take other people too seriously either.

Bad Digimon lemons won’t kill thousands. “Harry Potter and the Fake ID” won’t cause a plague. Obvious SI’s won’t cause famine. Poor stories won’t cause nuclear war.

Taking life too seriously makes it gray and boring, an eternity of endless calculation and no real results. Life is best when its lived, and taking things too seriously puts walls between you and life.

(And, completely unrelated, “Harry Potter and the Fake ID” does sound like a funny story idea. If it exists, I honestly didn’t know.)

THE ARTISTIC EGO:
I don’t buy the idea the artistic ego is necessary or beneficial. I think it’s a block, a barrier, an impairment.

Creativity is an expression. Creativity is best when it happens of itself. Dragging your ego into the process is only going to block it up, give you the mental equivalent of a strangulated hernia of the soul. It’s going to bring in selfishness and self-image and all sorts of concerns that crowd out creativity.

Plus, it’ll make you annoying to deal with. Trust me.

SO, WHY DO I DO IT?
I wrote this column because, once, someone told me the columns at fanfiction.net weren’t that good. I looked, disagreed . . . and an inspiration struck me to share my big interest, worldbuilding, with people. I wrote three test columns that evening. I knew it was going to work, it felt real. I could use my creativity and reach people and make a difference. Creativity and Communication in one.

I write my Xai series because a bunch of characters came to life and I needed to give them a place to live. I’m now a year and three-quarters into a four year project. It just happened. It came to life. The idea had me.

I started drawing . . . well, because.

Creativity is one of those magical moments, unshakable by logic or anthing else.

Enjoy it.

And no one can truly take it away – you can only give it away.

So, that’s in. A year of Way With Worlds.

Let’s get ready for the next year.

And next column, expect me to be back to my technical self.

A Way with Worlds is hosted at fanfiction.net, lit.org, and sffworld.com.
It is archived at the Way With Worlds archive.

Copyright© 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 Steven Savage, sffworld.com. All rights reserved. No part of this may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the author.

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