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despair, giving upI create. I can’t help it. Am I adequately compensated for my creations? That is a good question. Like many who create, I work in 2 separate spheres. My profession demands creativity on deadlines, video production, sales copy, industrial scripts, graphics, and event production for live performances. I find this kind of creativity rewarding in a way; it pays the bills. But I have to be honest, I gain little artistic fulfillment from such endeavors. Cliché, I know. But often, truth is nothing but cliché.

To become artistically fulfilled, I must be in control of the creative process. This means no commissions, no clients. This adds plenty of pressure. Questions constantly come to mind. Will readers/listeners accept my new novel/album? The process becomes lonely. Self-examination becomes brutal and crushing. As much as we creators don’t want to admit it, we seek one thing in common: validation. It isn’t enough to create in a vacuum just for the sake of giving life to something new. We must receive some form of validation for what we have made.

Validation comes in many forms, not limited to sales, increased fandom, compliments, reviews, and invitations to speak at engagements. The problem is, validation acts like a vampire on our backs. It almost doesn’t matter how much we have received in our past. New projects are always in the works and we constantly look forward, hoping for validation on those projects as well.

Here’s the truth of the matter; the creative process dips into a bleak place. So bleak, in fact, that, in my case, it becomes difficult to keep a positive outlook on creativity in general. I think I am speaking for the masses when I say creativity is a struggle. And with any struggle comes the temptation to give up. In this, we find the paradox. Creators create because they are driven to do so. Yet, in the face of so much internal and external struggle, there looms a constant temptation to universally and permanently throw in the towel. I can honestly say that I am constantly right on the edge of quitting. Forever. Yet, if a creator stops creating, eventually stagnation forces him or her to pick up the tools and create again. Place the horrible validation vampire on the back of the creator and it all becomes even more complicated and difficult. The cycle repeats, project after project, never ending.

There you go: honesty. Now, listen to this. If you are a creator (writer, musician, sculptor, painter, filmmaker, dancer, etc.) always remember that the world needs your voice, be it small or large. Please don’t ever give up. Contribute your talents to a bigger picture in the world. Even more importantly, always remember that creators all around you suffer from the same insane condition. Encourage them. Delight in their triumphs. Don’t compare yourself to them either in your mind or in your words. You occupy a different place than any other creator. Stay true to your craft and bolster up those around you who are also in the act of offering their unique gifts to the world.

Craig Nybo
Craig Nybo

Craig Nybo writes novels, screenplays, and short stories. He also composes and records music. Craig lives in Kaysville, Utah with his lovely wife and children.

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