A friend and I were discussing our common love of writing. “I get depressed when I have nothing to write,” he said, while also sharing his insecurities about his work. “How come you’re never insecure about being a good writer?” he asked.
“To be honest,” I said, “I really do not think I am a good writer. I just happen to be blessed with a writing talent in this lifetime.”
“What’s the difference?”
“The difference is that I see the real me as ‘nothing’, which necessarily includes ‘everything’ – the real me is ‘endless possibility’. But this personality, this body and these relationships that I have adopted for this lifetime come with certain skill sets and talents. Whether it is my writing, bringing out a magazine, being a guide for certain loved ones – these are all gifts for a short period. My writing talent does not belong to me. It is on loan, to be used for universal good (and for my own happiness, which is an important part of universal good). If I don’t use it wisely, it will no doubt be taken away from me. As long as I respect it and use it well, I continue to derive its benefits.”
Our discussion reminded me of this talk I saw on TED by Elizabeth Gilbert. She says we aren’t born geniuses; instead we each ‘have’ a genius who chooses or does not choose to inspire us at times. Using examples from ancient Roman and Greek mythology, she says that by treating an artist’s talent as an external ‘muse’, the pressure to perform is reduced. We are more creative when we see our creativity as a divine blessing, instead of something we ourselves are responsible for.
At the time this talk came out, I remember widespread criticism for her theory on my Facebook and Twitter feed; most said this explanation was just an excuse for bad work. But, as someone who writes for a living myself, I am able to understand where she comes from. As long as I externalise my ‘genius’, and allow myself to be its mere instrument, it flows through me with ease. The minute I begin to internalise it and see myself as the creator, I will lose it.
Elizabeth had tried to use rational language to explain an irrational, intuitive concept. It is no wonder she received criticism from the various intellectuals of the world. I have no such limitations in my personal space! I can openly say: “God flows through my fingers when I write. If you like what you read, praise the Lord. If you don’t, then perhaps you should switch to something that does inspire you to praise the Lord.” 🙂
Okay, now to complete an article that has been pending since last week. The talent comes from a divine source, but the procrastination is all mine! Hmm. Perhaps I should outsource my weaknesses too? 🙂