Who Needs Your Art?
The best creativity begins with what God stirs in our hearts. It is an invitation to intimately and actively pursue our gifting with the Creator.
So who needs your art? First of all, you do.
As artists, we use our gifting to help make sense of the world around and beyond us. There are the times where the urge to create is so strong that – if stranded alone on a desert island – we’d scribble in sand, carve on cave walls, or sing symphonies to the waves.
I’m not talking about things we can create. I’m talking about the things we must create. It’s the idea that wakes you up in the middle of the night and fuel your thoughts during the day. Because ultimately what we create is an outer expression of our inner struggles, fears, hopes, and dreams.
We don’t breathe life into a new creation simply to teach someone a lesson. We do so because as we pursue the things that make us come alive, we are drawn to the source of our creativity.
Only from that place can we – through our art – invite others to join us on the journey. Our art is a costly process of discovery that stretches us in ways we can then stretch others.
Where in your life are you actively exploring new frontiers? How are you sacrificing for those you love? Where have you recently blown it? What are you risking? How is your faith being tested? As artists, we must take new journeys away from the canvas before we can reveal new possibilities on our canvas.
Often an author’s best book is their first book. Why is that? After all, it’s usually the book nobody was asking for. Which is actually a big reason for its power. They weren’t written as a follow-up or to fit a formula. The ideas had time to simmer for more than a minute because there was no looming deadline. Nor were readers waiting in the wings with pre-set expectations.
So then who was the first book for? It was for the writer…first. That’s how the best stories begin.
But that’s not how all stories are born. Industry demands, trend chasing, and the desire to control success frequently drives the process. Many books are written because, well, contractually a manuscript is due. Other times, an author is asked to follow a marketplace trend to ride that wave. And some authors get stuck in formula once a prior book sells well. Because when something works, the pull is for more of the same. Not exactly the same. But close enough to increase the odds lightning will strike again. Yet in these cases, it’s often easier to measure the writer’s external word count than their internal passion.
Well-crafted art isn’t enough. When we focus more on how our next project will meet a deadline than why it should be born, we’ve traded purpose for process. Both matter. But purpose and passion must come first.
Our audiences instinctively know when this doesn’t happen. They stop following an artist when predictability and boredom set in. My sense is that in most cases, the artist grew bored first. Who wouldn’t after treading the same waters again and again?
Honestly, which type of art would you rather spend time with – one created out of duty, formula, and deadline or one that kept the artist awake at night because it captured the journey of his or her heart? More importantly, which type of art would you rather create?
As our Creator, God instills in us the desire to co-create with Him. So pursue what awakens your soul. Actively co-create with God. Give yourself – and your passion – time to breathe and grow.
What if the marketplace doesn’t like it? That’s a possibility. But if you’re creating something that make you come alive and you’re doing so with God, let that be enough.
Your art will never satisfy everyone. So create what stirs you and then serve it full strength to the hungry. That isn’t settling for less. It’s being settled in your gifting.
And it is more than enough.
© Allen Arnold, 2019
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