Sunday, July 18, 2010

Contagious Creativity

"I go into the museum
and look at all the pictures on the walls.
Instead of feeling my own insignificance
I want to go straight home and paint."

--Madeleine L'Engle

Anyone who has read any of my writing in the past (especially "blog-style" writing) knows that I tend to quote three people in excess. Madeleine L'Engle, C. S. Lewis, and Rich Mullins. The first two are dead writers, and other is a dead musician. I quote them quite often because something in their writing and/or their lives has touched me. Something in their writing and/or lives has in some small way changed my life and influenced both the way I live and the way that I write.

I've learned that writers (and perhaps all artists--at least the good ones) are repetitive. I think there's a good reason for this. What writers write is important to them, and sometimes writers feel the need to emphasize over and over again what is important to them. The theme of creativity is something I see repeated throughout Madeleine L'Engle's writing. It was important to her, and it's become important to me.

When I was a fairly young child, perhaps five or six, I remember sitting in a Sunday School class at church, and the teacher asked us a question. She asked us why we thought that God created people. As a child, my childlike answer was, "Maybe God was just lonely." As a grown up--a Bible College/Seminary educated grown up, I know that answer is definitely not true. God doesn't need people to fill a void in Himself, because God doesn't need anything to be God. He already is. He always was. He always will be.

But creativity is something I understand because I am a writer. I know why God created the universe and I know why God created people. God creates because God is a Creator. Creating is what a Creator does. A writer writes because a writer can't help but to write. A singer sings because a singer can't help but to sing. A painter paints because a painter can't help but to paint. One might as well say that a breather breathes because a breather can't help but to breathe.

God creates because God is creative. The truly wonderful thing about God's creation is how complete it is. The world is imperfect, but that's not how it began. According to that first chapter of Genesis, God saw that the things He had made were good. The world is corrupted now, but corruption implies the deterioration of something that was once perfect. And no doubt, it would still be perfect if God hadn't included into creation the element that would allow for that corruption.

I'm not blaming God for the fall of mankind. That was all us. Putting the ability to sin in someone is not the same thing as causing someone to sin. But God did put that ability to sin inside of us--the ability to choose to serve God or to serve ourselves. He knew which one we would ultimately choose, but knowing someone is going to do something is also not the same thing as causing someone to do it.

But God is creative. God wrote (and still writes) the story because God is an Author. And in creating mankind, God did something remarkable. He gave us the power, like Him, to be creative. He made us into His image and breathed life into us, and we are not like the animals nor any other creature in all creation. His breath of creativity is inside us in a way that enables us to create, as well.

The Madeleine L'Engle poem at the beginning of this post is one of my favorite quotes because I understand it completely. Whenever I read something truly moving or hear a song that is particularly beautiful, my first instinct is to want to write something truly moving or particularly beautiful. It's the same thing that happens when I see a sunset or a starry sky or a green field or a powerful mountain. Instead of feeling small, I want to create something big. Creativity breeds creativity.

As a writer, I feel the best compliment is when someone tells me that my writing makes them want to write something, too. Sometimes I wonder if it's better to look at that sunset or starry sky or green field or powerful mountain and just meekly breathe out a prayer of gratitude for the beauty of it all, or if it's better to write a poem or sing a song or paint a picture of it. Perhaps the answer is simply YES. Yes to both. Because if God created us to be creative beings, then perhaps the best praise is humbly imitating His creative power in the knowledge that what He created and what we create is good.


  1. You should post snippets of your novel! I want to read it.

  2. Um, no. That's not the purpose of this blog, and I'm not comfortable posting something I want published in a place that is this easily accessible to everyone on the internet. By the way, when people ask to see my book before it's published, it makes me feel like they think it'll never be published. :-D

  3. Haha. I think it will be published, I'm just impatient! I've always been a sucker for fantasy novels. I remember this one dragon book I read like five times in a row in high school.

  4. FTW?

    And I just read your post about babysitting. I KNOW! If we went to a church like Wake Crossroads we would have an abundance of babysitters to choose from. Tom and I don't go to an institutionalized church, though. We go to a weekly bible study. Most of the people there have kids, so night time wouldn't work for them and the single people are all in the Navy and not really the babysitting type. For now we're using Adam's Aunts and Uncles who live around us. Would you be willing to fly out in a few weeks for Tom and me to go on a date?

  5. lol. FTW means "For the Win!" Idk, it's what all the kids say, so it must be a cool thing to say.