Reflections–The Voices

The Voices

“Will you listen to the voice of your critics in determining what sort of art you should make? Will you listen to the voices within your culture—the demand for commercial viability, the pull towards the lowest common denominator? Will you listen to the voice of the numb that complains that it’s not fast enough, bright enough, sexy enough? Or will you listen to the voice that speaks from your very cells—the voice that always is saying, “Let there be”?
~ Michael Gungor, The Crowd, the Critic, and the Muse

Now, I think it’s safe to assume that Gungor is not saying we should ignore any thought of marketing, but I think it’s also safe to say that if the “voice” of marketing is the only voice you’re listening to, to the point where your art lacks a soul or purpose beyond marketability, you are on the wrong path.

I think the “voice” that has dominated my creative process most closely resembles the numb, always saying that whatever I was doing just wasn’t good enough in some way, yet it seemed to come from me, rather than outside. Thinking about this, I’m wondering if I’ve overdosed on art, such that I can’t see clearly enough to focus on a project of my own, and allow it to stand apart from the others. I’ll have to think on that more.

I love reading, playing story-driven video games, and watching shows and movies, and I think it fuels the creative fire in me, but perhaps it’s gone to the point of smothering it. This may not be related to how much Story I’m consuming (I don’t actually watch or read that much most days, sadly), but rather how I’m relating my art to it. Just like in putting wood on a fire, you need to be careful how you place the tinder, the twigs, and the larger sticks so that the tiny spark has air and space to become a flame, a small fire, and then a consuming torrent that thrives on the fuel fed to it. It never bodes well to compare your rough sketches to the movie you saw last night, nor your first draft to The Lord of the Rings–it’s not ready for that, yet. Let it be, and let it grow before you judge it so hard.

Perhaps fire isn’t the best analogy, since all it makes is ashes, but the flame part fits the passionate nature of creativity, and I feel as if mine has not been allowed to grow much beyond a spark in a very long time. Something for me to think and pray about.

What voices interrupt, influence, and encourage you when you set out to create?


4 thoughts on “Reflections–The Voices

  1. amy Reply

    Catching up on commenting here. 😉

    I like your illustration about helping the little spark turn into a fire. 🙂 When I’m honest, the commercial viability voice is often very strong to me. If I want to spend so much time making art, it needs to be worth something- and oftentimes that worth becomes defined as “will it sell and will it be profitable enough?” I’ve found this to be stifling.

    As far as what encourages me, mostly the voice reminding me art comes from a Creative God and therefore it’s a privilege to create. That’s a small, soft voice, that has to be nourished because it gets easily hidden behind criticism or commercialism, but it helps me.

    I wrote just a little bit about that voice here once: (Sorry, not meaning to do a personal blog promotion with my comment!).

    • Jeremiah Post authorReply

      And here I am catching up on replying to comments, now. 😉

      Thank you. 🙂 I can relate to that, it’s very difficult to create while wondering how marketable something is, especially if I’m wanting to make a living that way, or, more often for me, wanting to touch as many people as I can.

      I have that voice, too! And mine is pretty sickly also. 😛 Have you found any specific ways to nourish it? I’ve started thinking about a more casual writing project to fan my creative flames and just do it for the sake of creating, and enjoying the privilege of doing so while glorifying God by mimicking Him, but that has been slow going, and overall I feel like I have a long way to go still, in listening to that voice.

      That’s a great post, and well said. (No worries, it’s awesome to see others’ thoughts and get an actual discussion going!)

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

      • amy Reply

        The best way I know to nourish the good voice for creativity is by “journaling.” What I don’t mean by that is meticulously recording all the things I think- honestly, that just makes me get discouraged because that sort of writing can grow small, melancholy thoughts into overwhelming, discouraging concepts. Not a good thing. Instead, for me, my journal is my personal place to create without the pressure of anyone ever seeing it (until I die, then my family is welcome to take a look inside. :)) In my journal, (which is actually a sketchbook because lined pages stifle my creativity) I write poetry, process ideas, reflect & pray, draw pictures, practice typography, record my life as a story, and anything else that I feel like doing. I enjoy it and do it well because it never impresses but always helps me to express and grow.

        • Jeremiah Post authorReply

          That sounds super awesome. 🙂 I’m thinking I might try freewriting daily or several times a week–it sounds like that might be a similar concept to what you’re doing.

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