I write poetry fairly regularly. Pop culture criticism increasingly often. But I’ve wanted to write a novel for about 7 years, and so far have not had the time/guts/patience. I’ll be launching a series of posts reflecting on creativity and what it involves.
What I immediately run into, what I think most artists of any kind run into, is not just self-doubt, but in particular, unless you have the particular naive arrogance of the teens and early twenties, self-contempt. Any good craftsman has a wide and deep and constantly evolving familiarity with the successes in his craft, with the novel or the painting or the installation that succeeded, with the artists who are succeeding. In particular, with the history of all the great works in your particular genre within your particular field of art, that have been produced, and the ones that are currently being produced.
In the face of this, it’s hard, can feel nearly impossible, to produce anything at all original or new.
Which is why I’m beginning to grapple with the idea of creativity as something fundamentally not original, as, ultimately, imitation, perseverance, and will rather than inspiration and originality.