The Courage in Creativity


November 9, 2015 by Ray Yanek

I’ve seen a lot of talk about Elizabeth Gilbert’s (of Eat, Pray, Love fame) new book Big Magic-Creative Living Beyond Fear and it’s focus on creative courage.  gilbert

Do you as a writer or artist have the courage, she asks in the prologue, to tell your stories?

It’s a compelling question, especially as I sit here and watch a mountain (okay, maybe a hill) of short stories and a unpublished novel playing gin rummy and sighing ruefully.

Do I have the courage?

It’s a compelling question as I sit here with a blank document open in the background where, for the last week, I’ve been meaning to start another novel.

“Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you? . . ” Gilbert asks.

Another compelling question especially considering that I’ve spent a good part of the day pondering some serious changes I need to make in my life.  I’ve realized there are some things that I need to leave behind, some habits that I know–and have known–are keeping those treasures buried.

I don’t think I have that courage, though.

It would seem that if I did some of those short  stories would be outbig magic knocking on doors. If I did, I wouldn’t have shelved that novel after all those long, long hours (and weeks, and months, and years) of work.  Maybe I would be churning out words for the new book.

Maybe also, I would have already made those changes in my life that I desperately need to make.

It’s a scary proposition to put your soul on the line for people to look at.  Those times in the past when I’ve sent stories out to editors or that other novel out to agents were terrifying.

Hell, sometimes just posting on this blog is downright horrifying.

Are people judging me?  Are they even reading this?  If not, am I a failure? Someone simply living in a dream world?  Do I have nothing worthwhile to say?

Or am I just not good enough?


And change.  

Even the mere mention of the word sends me running for the Xanax.

I thought about e.e. cummings today too.  “It takes courage to grow up and become eecummings161593who you really are,” he said.

I just ordered Gilbert’s book.

And I’m seriously considering tattooing Cummings’ quote somewhere on my body.  

Courage.  I need to find it.

So help me out… how do you all find the courage share those jewels within you?


4 thoughts on “The Courage in Creativity

  1. Carrie Rubin says:

    Interesting time for me to read this since my new book is coming out in two days. I’m facing all those fears you bring up, even though I’ve been through this before. It’s scary putting our work out there, especially if it’s got a bit of an edge. I wonder if it ever gets easier.

    That Cummings’ quote is perfect. Exactly what I needed right now.

  2. Putting your soul on the line is exactly right. My courage comes from the comments of followers.

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