“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?