Photo by Yannick Pulver on Unsplash

Keep bleeding love

When we write about creativity and passion, it’s easy to encourage folks to pull from trauma and desperation. After all, these feelings simmer at our surface most days, reminding us how we’ve grown and changed, and come forward through the dark forest into the light.

I think about people writing villains, centering on the worst in them, their humanity, and how so often that tenderness for compassion leads to a fall. Anakin, after all, was jedi and human, and still trusted too much in his fear and it let him down.

I remember looking inward at all my stories, my inspirations and grumbling for a lack of authenticity. Raised in a martyrdom-centric society, it’s easy to take for granted a comfortable life and safety and good fortune when the radical pentecostal leaders in your social circle constantly boast about their reformed lives from addiction and substance abuse and survivor’s guilt etc etc and so on.

But stories do not last long when they are born from grief. Eventually that well runs dry as time heals us and as we look forward to new and better things. Trauma may be the birthplace of something new, but it is not a house. It is not meant to sustain and last, you are meant to survive and get out of that place.

As a creative person, you can use your skills, your tools, to process past that pain. You can remember the ground beneath your fingertips, the pain etched across your face. You can use your words and your hands and even your body to share and tell the story, and show others what happens next. Trauma does not define us, nor does it rebuild us. It can shape us, cause changes to our personality and lives but it is not the bookend of this novel. It is the closing of a chapter, and in your creative life, a necessary one to step forward.

Let your creativity come from many fountains of wellness and passion and pain and love. Watch as your work becomes informed with many emotions and feelings and allow it to not be just this one thing, but instead borne of many things. Elizabeth Gilbert advises that her writing “is not my baby, but instead, I am my writing’s baby” (Big Magic). Let your creation be a shelter for you as you invest your time and energy into forming it.

But never forget to leave, to move out, and to start something new. Let it be released into the world not as your child but as a story or a picture or a painting that once sheltered you. Now you are free to continue to create and start again and again and again. Continue on, and keep bleeding fresh love and compassion. This is what can make good art.

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Liz Brinks

Liz Brinks

Hey, I’m Liz Brinks (they/them) I’m a queer gender-non-conforming writer, business coach & cat-parent (@itsjuustliz everywhere) based out of Wisconsin!