As a writer, I generally consider myself a creative person. I think all of us are “creative” whether we are an artist or a mathematician. Creativity is about building toward an enigmatic purpose rather than crumbling under faults and risk-factors.
To write a story can sometimes feel like I am the god of the little universe I have “created”. It sure seems as though I have carte blanche, as if I can do anything I want. But there is another part that does not feel like I can truly do anything. Lots of artists – writers, painters, songwriters – will often say, “no, that is not quite right” when they are in the midst of their drafts. There is some truth we are aiming at that has not yet been captured.
I often think about how misleading the term “create” can be. The truth is, none of us can really create anything. When we say we make a recipe from scratch, we don’t really mean we conjure a recipe from nothingness.
The reality is, we are not so much creators as assemblers. We assemble ingredients, ideas, sentences. We make them into something; a collaboration of truths, a complex molecule out of the atoms.
We aren’t so much creating as stewarding.
Those stories and songs that “don’t feel quite right” are the artist’s attempts to discover the truth that is bigger than they are. The gift that has been given to them – the ability to see. It is the great joy and heavy burden of creativity.
Creating something is sort of like the idea of owning something. It is kind of true, in a temporal sense. But in the eternal, cosmic sense, nothing really belongs to you. We are all in these houses temporarily – someone else will be in them after we have gone. We have this money for a season, but it will be spent and passed on. Even our bodies will eventually be left to decay.
We cannot truly own and we cannot truly create because we are not truly God.
Only God is God.
We are his stewards. Endowed for a short time with possessions, abilities, and opportunities. We are given a few ingredients, an ineffable recipe, and one strange and beautiful life to express as best we can the truths living inside of us.