I Am a Creative


A friend, Julie and I were walking through one of my favorite parts of our old hometown.  My family and I were in town for a week, and each morning Julie and I would meet just after the sun rose to walk together.  Those walks were life giving to me—still are, really.  The things we talk about, the things I’m able to process and learn sustain me even when I’m far away and know it will be years before we walk together again.

Those walks stay with me.  They burrow deep inside of me and start to change me.

This particular morning, we were walking past abundant gardens and had just past under a large pine tree when Julie turned to me and asked, “Do you consider yourself a creative?”  It wasn’t an idle question (hers never are).  It was piercing.  She meant it.  Did I see myself as a Creative?

The question terrified me.  A lump caught in my throat and I backpedaled wildly.  Yes, I make things.  And it’s important to me to think through things deeply.  I like to examine the world and try to make something of it.  But, I also am very reason driven.  And, well, no, I’m not a Creative.  Other people get to be Creatives.  I just make things . . . sometimes.

Mind you, at this time, I was about 3/4 of the way through writing a novel.  That’s what we were discussing that led to the question.  I have sewn clothes for myself since I was in high school, and regularly create with paper and cloth.    I engage in some sort of creative activity every day and yet the idea of calling myself a Creative struck terror into my heart.

My friend knows the power of a question, and she also knows the power of silence.  I don’t recall exactly what Julie said in response to my wild resistance to this title.  She may not have said anything.  But, what I came away with was an invitation to just sit with this question.

Do you consider yourself a creative?

There are a handful of questions that have changed my life.  This was one of them.

I blanched at the time—but the question kept growing inside me.  Buried deep, something stirred.  Me . . . a creative?

But, what I make isn’t creative—it’s construction.  I’m a technician, maybe.  But not a creative.  I take pictures and I make quilts.  I’m just taking different pieces and putting them together.  And Creatives, well, they’re a different type of people altogether.  They’re the kids who hung out in the art hallway with paint under their fingernails.  Or, they’re poets.  Or actors.  Or dancers.

I don’t know, there are a million things they might be, but a mom who makes things is not one of them.

And besides, and this is the most important point, they didn’t decide they were Creatives.  That’s a title that has to be bestowed.  There are gatekeepers and critiques and people who decide these things.  Didn’t Julie know this?

The answer was so obviously, so clearly, so overwhelmingly no.  So, why did I keep returning to this question?  

Because the question didn’t seem to mind.  

The question was quiet, but it was persistent.  It let me thrash around inside all of these doubts—all of these misconceptions.  And, then, it began to blossom.

Slowly at first.  A small stray thought.  A tiny doubt about my previous arguments.  Those thoughts turned into tiny actions.  Experimenting.  Creating in different ways.  New tools.  Sharing what I’d created with others.  And before I knew it—there it was.  A full blown conviction.

I am a Creative.

And I knew, finally, that this is not a title anyone can bestow.  It isn’t an endowment or a prize.  It is something I have to claim for myself.

It was always there, waiting for me.

So, I’ll pass this question on to you, now.

Are you a Creative?

It doesn’t matter what you call it—a creative, a maker, an artist, etc. What matters is this stepping into it.  Claiming it for your own.  I promise, it will change everything.