Once upon a time, someone told me that because I was a creative person, I could not be rational. What was implied was that I could not be a truly intelligent person, for loving art. And, that I could never become a successful person because I was born passionate and had learned it was worthwhile to take risks in life, in order to praise life. Today, on re-reading Dr. King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail, I am reminded that society does need intensity and creative vision–a kind of Socratic intellectual tension that should drive people to find better solutions to those schemes and embittered attitudes present in our society that are based in misconceptions of what the full breadth of what being human, and being a successful person really involves. In fact, human progress is frustrated by these stereotypes of creative individuals.
And so, as a black fantasy fiction writer, and a lover of fiction reading and then writing in general, I feel compelled to remind everyone who is an artist today and a lover of art–especially if you are a struggling creative person, of a few Don’ts.
- Don’t let people tell you that silly isn’t sexy; that indulging play and renewing the spirit in the middle of life’s now-and-again drudgery serves no purpose. People will say this to you, but don’t ever let it sink in.
- Don’t let people tell you that it is foolish to delve into your emotions, all those aspects of the human experience which are hard to recapture but easier to feel and convey through art–in order to respond to life’s challenges. They will tell you that your deep feelings make you too womanly, or not manly enough, but don’t let it sink in.
- Don’t let people say to you that if what you’re doing makes no money, then it can’t make any sense. All work is at first service to another person. Therefore, all jobs, all choices to commit time to even an artistic project is some form of vocation. Furthermore, humans are made to care. We are made to want to build, and participate in life’s improvement and to be loved. And so, that is the real point of work–to make things better, to show love.
People may not always get that, through being creative, you’re actually seeing another part of this life. Just because they won’t always see what you do, does not mean you are blind. Never give into any suggestion that you aren’t a worthwhile person, because you are artistic. Now, I’ll tell you one last thing that they won’t. Please let it sink in:
Fellow artist, for doing what you do and for being who you are, you are loved because you have become a maker of love, itself. You are progress, incarnate. You will empower and refresh generations.
True human intelligence strives for that kind of achievement.