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Courage for Creatives (or, a love letter to my online friends)

I know I say this as if I’m some brave adventurer, standing atop a convenient…

Courage, my friends.

I know I say this as if I’m some brave adventurer, standing atop a convenient outcropping with one hand on my hip and the other either shading my eyes as I gaze dramatically off into the uncharted distance, or waving a sword around in a vaguely threatening and assertive manner.

I don’t feel much like an adventurer or a swordswoman.

Although the pen is apparently mightier than the sword, so there is that.

And I don’t think there’s too much danger of being marauded by barbarians, devoured by non-Beaufort-type dragons, or lost in unmapped and surely monster-infested wilderness this particular evening. Unless there’s a sudden reality shift, but so far so good.

Which begs the question: what, exactly, am I talking about? Why am I wishing people courage like some deluded explorer?

Well, life.

The creative life in particular, but also life in general.

That stuff’s scary.

This was the first image that stock photos had for ‘writer’. Really. This is why we need other creative friends.

And I have so much, honest-to-goodness, hand-on-heart, sword-presented-hilt-first respect for all of you, whether you think you’re nailing it or not.

Because you’re doing amazing.

I mean that.

Some of you are so on top of this life thing, looking after little people and running businesses and having your clothes on right-way-round, and somehow not even wanting to murder anyone – you’re amazing. You also scare me, and I’m not sure you’re not at least a little bit magical, but you’re amazing all the same.

Some of you are debating the wisdom of getting up today, let alone showered or dressed – and some of you will decide that the only course of action is not to. You’re amazing, too. You’re getting yourself through this illogical confusion of life the best way you know how, and that’s something to be proud of. Incredibly so.

Some of you are alternating between days that make no sense whatsoever and others where things seem to be coming together (only to fall apart again by 4pm the following day), and I’m right there with you. You’re amazing, too. You keep pushing through the what-the-hell days, and making the most of the almost-making-sense days. That’s not easy. You rock.

Life is hard. It’s complicated and confusing and scary and wonderful all at once, and we don’t all have the same armoury to deal with it. Sometimes we gain weapons as we go along, and supplies, and companions to help keep the monsters back, but sometimes we lose them, too. Sometimes we don’t have anything except ourselves and our own small voices, walking unpleasant roads alone.

How it feels when you first start putting your work out there. THEY'RE ALL LOOKING AT ME.

But isn’t that amazing? That we keep walking anyway? Sometimes it’s very slow, but we keep going.

And then, on top of all that, people quietly put themselves out into the world, with writing and drawing and painting and music and so much beautifully honest creativity. And they bear the fear of it, the anxiety of what others will think, not just of their work but of them, because what are our creative efforts but parts of us, held out for others to see? And they take the knocks, the sneers and the condescending advice, the being ignored and the being noticed by people that have nothing good to say to anyone. But they persist. And they find each other.

I find it astonishing. I’m reminded of this over and over as I lurk about the place on social media. All these amazing people that are not only finding their way along the paths of their own lives, arming themselves against the monsters as well as they can, but who are forming bands against the darkness, communities of other travellers that wash up against each other in the depths of twitter and discover common goals. And how wonderfully supportive they are, these people that shout back the monsters for each other, defend each other and share firesides (and often a very peculiar sense of humour).

Anyone that thinks online friends can’t be real friends should spend a little more time in the creative wilds of social media. It’s beautiful. And maybe in real life we wouldn’t even be very good at having a conversation together or even looking at each other, but that doesn’t matter. We do just fine online, where we can be open and honest and a little (or a lot) weird. And we can find each other.

So when I say courage, I mean carry on. Carry on all you wonderful, beautiful people. Carry on creating amazing things and putting them out there. Carry on standing up for each other, and speaking out for each other, and loving each other’s work and telling other people about it. Carry on getting through life the best way you know how, and showing others how you manage it. Carry on exploring the wilds of the world and finding your way around the swamps and cliffs and dark places of it. Carry on even when you’re down to your last match and you can’t find any dry wood. Carry on because you’re wonderful, and amazing, and astonishing, and I’m in awe of every single one of you.

Carry on being brave and creative and confused and lost and strong and hopeless all at once. I think that may be, after all, what it is to be human.

How about you, lovely people? Have you found good friends on social media? Do you sometimes feel like being creative (and life in general) is a tough old business? Let me know in the comments!

creativity, life, social media, weirdness, writer's life, writing

  1. ChanAtkins says:

    Brilliant, love this! Exactly what I needed to hear right now, and I agree with every word. A really beautiful piece, Kim. Have shared to twitter and Facebook!

    1. kimwatt says:

      Ach, thank you SO MUCH! Hearing that just made my night – I’m so glad it came at the right time for you. And thank you for the share!

  2. datmama4 says:

    This is one of the best pep talks ever. EVER. Sometimes, people just need someone to listen and cheer.

    1. kimwatt says:

      Thank you so much! I’m so glad you liked it – I feel so astonished and even overwhelmed at times by the support you both see and receive in the online community. People can be so wonderful to each other, and they definitely deserve a shout out for it. 🙂 And I take this as a double compliment coming from a very good cheerleader!

  3. Hans says:

    Tnx Kim for the encouraging words.

    I know there are lots of people who thrive on compliments (well ment or just superfluous window dressing),
    But there are so many who wonder in the dark, simply needing a thumbs-up, confirmation that they’re heading in the right direction (no matter how long the road ahead is), or warn that one is heading towards a minefield — or even worse.
    Just like you, I do appreciate Rosetta’s suggestion to take a different path, but sometimes it feels like I’m rowing against the stream, rapids I dare face, but upstream waterfall?

    1. kimwatt says:

      I’m sorry to hear you feel you’re in unsteady waters – that’s no good at all! But I don’t think there’s anything wrong with going against the stream. Often it’s the only way we find what we love, because it’s very likely to be in different little niches that are less common. It’s true that it can mean that affirmation that you’re going in the right direction is a long time coming, though. Hang in there, and keep doing what you love!

Comment away! (Points awarded for comments involving cats, tea, or baked goods)

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