Prompts Project

Prompt Project: The Unexpected Gift

Creatives are happiest when they’re creating. Creating takes away the power of negativity. When I have time to write, the soul-sucking parasite that is my everyday job steals ideas of what to write. My brain is dead and tired. Not writing everyday makes my soul incomplete, craving for an outlet. I end up drowning in a cesspool of depression and anxiety, and that manifests rage and frustration.

So this is what I’m going to do: A lovely young lady once surprised me with a gift she loved and thought I would, too. It’s a book. The title: 642 Things to Write About. This will jumpstart my ideas, even when my brain won’t switch to creative thoughts. This project will be a task in discipline and perseverance. This is my attempt to gain control and not let the negative aspects of my life win.

So the first writing prompt I will take on is this:

An unexpected gift

This book, compiled by The San Francisco Writers’ Grotto, arrived at my everyday job. I’m fortunate enough to live in a small town with a kind mail carrier who brings packages to me at work instead of putting them in my mailbox by the highway or returning them to the post office until I can navigate long, slow lines with that little orange notice.

I hadn’t ordered anything, so the white bubble envelope sent questions tumbling through my head. Even after opening, I still didn’t understand, until I found the packing slip with a personal note. She said she enjoyed the book, and hoped I would as well.

In a life where people forget you’re a writer, when they just see you as someone who answers the phone or performs menial tasks that never seem to be good enough, my heart swelled with the knowledge that someone else got it. Someone else put heartfelt thought into a gift for me, an unexpected gift, and it was perfect. It fed the starving artist in me.

If you’re not a creative, you just don’t understand.

In a 2010 report by Business Insider titled “The 13 Careers Where You’re Most Likely to Commit Suicide,” seven were the following: artists, photographers, actors, comedians, authors, dancers and musicians.

Why is this?

In 2014, posted: Many artists and people who commit suicide share character traits, such as perfectionism. Common pathways in the brain lead people to both be more creative and experience mood and behavior patterns outside the norm, according to Dr. Christine Moutier, Chief Medical Officer for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

It’s easy to put all of us creatives in the “crazy” category. We are moodier, more driven by perfectionism and harder on ourselves than anyone else. It’s a condition you can’t explain unless you’ve had that pull from your sternum, felt the electricity that comes from being creative. Like a drug high for which you keep striving, but efforts leave you wanting the high from your first experience. Perhaps that’s why creatives are prone to addiction, because the act of creating is addictive. If you can’t achieve that feeling with creativeness, you reach for other vices.

Are you keeping count of how many of those potentially suicidal creatives live in my house or are people I love? We have learned to be a support system for one another, because no one else will be. We stay tuned into others’ emotions, depression and anxiety. We circumvent tragedy. We understand. We get it.

Inside these walls, we have a place where others understand. We seek outlets and support together. We remind each other that our art is our art. No one else has to accept that.

As I ponder all of this, I think about my grandma, who was an extremely creative woman. She listened to her police scanner and wrote down what was happening in the world. She journaled. She wrote poems to her dead children and mother and put them in the newspaper. She crafted all kinds of treasures. She died last year at 92.

Did she feel the loneliness and heartbreak that comes from not being understood or accepted as a creative? She never let it show if she did. She created for herself.

Perhaps that’s the lesson in this writing prompt. Creation is for the creator. Once created, the creator has done her job. Worth or acceptableness doesn’t lie in the opinions of the world, but in the eyes of the creator.

Because the creator’s opinion is the one that should matter to the creator.

My, that was an unexpected gift.

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