4.09.2010

Creator and Created

Twenty minutes is almost always far more video than I'm willing to watch on YouTube. Once that clock starts ticking past the 4:00 point, I get restless, and whatever else that says about me, in my head it usually means "I have some writing to do. I don't have time for television."

But I watched this one, recommended on Stuff Christians Like, start to finish.

After investing over four solid months of my life, day and night, in writing a novel--and a young adult fantasy, of all things, which everyone wants to write since the advent of Harry Potter--I take issue with my own creativity. The question of whether I am crazy for devoting so much energy and emotion to such possible insignificance pesters me, repeats itself, a maddening little loop in my mind. Crazy? I went crazy once....

In another area of life, I am haunted by my own inability to create. Catholic thought holds the painfully beautiful idea that in bringing children into the world, parents participate in God's work of creation. Everything I do feels automatically less worthwhile than that one thing over which I have no real control.

Elizabeth Gilbert, in the video linked above, never quite makes it to the Christian concept of a creator God whose imprint is upon his creatures. But then, the granting of success to human effort feels much more like the magic of a fairy or genie or muse than the blessing of a loving creator: capricious, unmoved by laws of justice, and sometimes even misleading. I believe in the Christian idea, but I cannot say with any certainty where God's direct influence leaves off and where the forces of the world, such as they are, begin. Maybe we aren't meant to know.

Ms. Gilbert has the right idea, though, for the life of the creating human. We must give what we have, showing up for our part of the work in good faith. The addition of the divine grace is beyond us. It is neither our own brilliance when it happens, nor our own failure when it does not.

As she points out, that truth can free a creative person from the need to despair. Giving up the divine responsibility doesn't remove things like disappointment and grief, but it puts them on a human level.

My job is not to write the next Harry Potter or Twilight. It is not to convince my body to carry a child. It is not to have everything I do touched by the magic of success. My job is to work--as the handmaid of the Lord, and may it be done to me according to His word.

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