Vampires need to drink blood. They cannot survive without it.
Fish need water. They cannot breath air from the atmosphere.
Creative people need to create. It’s not a choice; it’s essential for their survival, as much as hemoglobin sustains vampires, or water sustains fish.
This doesn’t always make sense to people who survive on salads and turkey sandwiches and trips to ballgames. It’s hard to understand what the big deal is for people compelled to create. Non-artists sometimes think the labors of creation, whatever a particular style may be, is an an enjoyable diversion, a hobby perhaps, or a wishful dream of an alternate career. For many people those things may be true, but for a subset of creatives in the world, acts of invention are not optional. They’re essential. Creative people make things that didn’t exist before they tried to make them. It’s a process that doesn’t have an easily accessed on/off switch. Creative people spend their days creating things because that’s the way ordinary days feel in balance.
This can be a challenge for both sides of the equation. It’s hard for creatives insofar as they often have to justify their actions and squint as more quotidian aspects of life make painful demands on their time. It’s hard for their friends and families who may not know what the big deal, the imperative aspect of the whole thing is all about. “Why is your book of poems so essential? Why do you have to finish that violin concerto this summer?”
Questions like those may not have easy answers, but that doesn’t make their realities any less true. Creative people know the difference between things that have to happen to keep life in balance and things that have to happen to keep a modern life functional enough to create things. As many living-on-the-edge artists have demonstrated over time, it’s not infrequent that some forego lives in balance in favor of continuing their creative pursuits. I’m not recommending it, but I am making the observation.
Yes, it’s challenging for other people around them, but if you’re listening closely you might understand why it matters so much. For creative people, the pressures of life are all about finding enough time and resources to create. For other people, the goal is often reversed. For many people the pursuit is often about creating enough time and resources so that they don’t have to work in their free time.
If you’re asking yourself which camp you’re in, you probably already know. (We’re happy to have you.) If you’re reading this and shaking your head, don’t worry. It’s not a judgmental thing, not a question of which way is better. But it is to say that fish gotta swim and birds gotta fly. It’s okay to ask why, but it’s probably not going to end well if you ask either of them to do something against their nature. Like walk.