This is no. 31 in a series of micro craft essays exploring the finer points of writing. Check back each week for a new Craft Capsule.
When you start thinking creatively, it’s like releasing a live animal—a new species of mischief that cannot be contained to just one area of your life. Creativity is not like a machine that can be switched on and off. And therefore it does not end when you stand up from your desk after a few solid hours of work.
Ever wondered why you feel the urge to roller skate through a shopping mall listening to Abba? Leave strange notes on the doorsteps of strangers? Eat apples standing up in the bath, naked, with the window open?
Now you know. Creativity is a form of salvation.
If we could limit creativity to just one area of our lives—how would we ever manage to convince ourselves to climb back in the rocket, and blast off again and again and again, to those distant galaxies of unwritten narrative?
And stop worrying about getting published. You write because you’re obsessed with telling a story in a way that no one else can. Focus on that. Only that. Everything else will take care of itself. And, please, for my sake—don’t ever think buying a plastic skeleton from a medical supply store then holding it up to the window when people walk past is a waste of time.
Being a writer means opening your whole life to creativity. It is a commitment to overpowering fear with imagination and compassion for yourself, as well as others. As a person who writes you’ll be a better mother, son, best friend, aunt, cousin, coach, or bank teller. Because learning to write is learning to see, and striving to see beyond is perhaps the only hope for our species.
Simon Van Booy is the author of nine books and the editor of three anthologies of philosophy. His latest work for adults, The Sadness of Beautiful Things, will be released in October from Penguin, and followed up in November by his latest work for children, Gertie Milk & the Great Keeper Rescue, from Penguin Razorbill.