Dear Creativity

by gigigriffis
converse shoes against fall leaves

Dear Creativity,

I’m writing to say I’m sorry.

I’ve been expecting too much from you, holding you to promises you never made. And that’s unfair of me.

You see, I just finished cycling across France—from the Swiss border all the way to the Atlantic coast. On that trip, I faced a lot of my fears and sadnesses and disappointments. And one of my disappointments was you.

I was disappointed that writing six books in two years hadn’t resulted in bigger exposure and more sales. I’d bought into the false cultural idea that if you’re brave enough, if you put yourself out there, if you jump, the net will appear. And I expected a bigger net than I got.

Don’t get me wrong. From a logical standpoint, you’ve been kind to me. Making enough book income each month to cover about 75% of my expenses as a self-published author is a massive accomplishment. And when you add in my magazine writing and online income, covering all my expenses as a travel writer…that’s pretty darn amazing as well.

But I’m a perfectionist. And I wanted more. Expected more.

Then I got to the end of my bike trip. I rode across a giant, scary bridge full of trucks, into the town of Saint-Nazaire, and up to a little bakery. I settled myself at a table outside with a drink and a cookie and I watched an interview with Elizabeth Gilbert about creativity.

She said she knew so many people who had gotten disillusioned with you after they poured their money and time and love into you and gotten less than what they expected in the end. Less readers. Less recognition. Less money. Whatever the case may be.

Then she said that her perspective on creativity was just the opposite. She never expected you to support her, to catch her when she jumped. She made a commitment to you, instead. That she would be the one to support you. She’d work as much as it took in order to be able to write, to pursue her projects.

And I realized that this is how I’d rather be.

Yes, I’m working toward building something that will support me. Yes, I care about doing projects that people want to buy. But rather than holding you to promises you never made me, I’m making a promise to you:

I’ll keep creating if you’ll keep showing up.

And while I hope for growth, for readers, for finances, I’m not going to blame you if they don’t come.

Love,

Gigi


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13 comments

Julie Pero October 26, 2015 - 6:25 am

Bravo!

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gigigriffis October 28, 2015 - 7:07 pm

Thanks!

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Renee October 26, 2015 - 7:32 am

Gigi,
This was such a great post. I love your honesty and your bravery. I love that you share your fear but do it anway, the trip, the book, the adventure. I think what Elizabeth Gilbert and you are talking about is so important. Blaming our sacred spark of creativity when our agenda doesn’t get met, is just so terribly sad. You are SO creative and awesome. Thank you so much for all you do and write and be. You are a light in the world. And many of us do see you. Keep going. Blessings to you. :)
renee

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gigigriffis October 28, 2015 - 7:07 pm

Thank you!

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Lynne October 26, 2015 - 8:23 am

Love this post, Gigi! I think it points to staying true to yourself, your voice, your purpose. The saying, “do what you love and the money will follow” comes to mind. Write about what you want to write about…stay true to that wonderful creative spirit you are…and it will all work out. (my mom, who passed away earlier this year, always said that to me and my siblings…it will all work out)

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gigigriffis October 28, 2015 - 7:08 pm

Thanks!

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Ali October 26, 2015 - 2:36 pm

I’ve totally been there. Expecting a bigger net than the one that appears, or expecting one and no net appears. I’m not sure how you change your mindset to think in terms of supporting your creativity instead of your creativity supporting you, but it sounds like a nice way to go…ya know, as long as you can still eat ;)

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gigigriffis October 28, 2015 - 7:08 pm

Yes. True.

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Katherine Gray October 26, 2015 - 3:17 pm

Supporting the creativity is a great way to frame this kind of life. When I had my agency there was definitely a considered balance between what was right for money and what was right for fulfillment. One way I was able to keep that in balance was to 1) seek out the lower-effort/higher-paying projects that could “fund” the riskier projects, and 2) charge more or ask for more money until someone said it was too much. Not that the agency model is necessarily lucrative; for me it wasn’t (solo consulting was much better). But knowing how to effectively ask for money when you know that what you’re offering is valuable supports the creativity.

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gigigriffis October 28, 2015 - 7:09 pm

Yes!

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Aleksandra November 1, 2015 - 11:15 am

Gigi, thank you! I’m toatlly at this point right now. I came across your blog while looking for inspiration (i am running a dog travel blog as well, for Polish readers) and with this post you just nailed it! I need to make this kind of shift :)

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gigigriffis November 1, 2015 - 4:23 pm

Glad it resonated!

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Of Novels and Nazis and a World of What-Ifs | The Ramble February 6, 2017 - 2:08 am

[…] after an emotional, trying month cycling across France from border to sea in September 2015, I re-dedicated myself to my creativity and started quietly thinking about what I wanted to […]

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