Writers out there. Painters. Creators.
Look at me.
I want you to do something along with me, okay?
It may sound scary, it may sound disturbing. Maybe even crazy if you’ve never done it before.
But let’s do it. It will be good in the end.
I want you to work on creating something with me.
If you’re a writer, I want you to write the best freaking sonnet or poem or blog post or whatever you’ve ever written.
If you’re a painter, I want you to paint something gorgeous. I want you to dig deep and bust something out.
If you’re any other kind of artist, I want you to do the same in your own genre.
Really throw yourself into it.
I want you to take that beautiful creation… that piece of writing, that painting, that whatever…
And I want you to destroy it.
If it’s a piece of writing, just delete it off your computer. Put it in the trash and then empty the trash so there’s no chance that it will return from whence it came. If you’re a painter, you could be really dramatic with this and cut it up into pieces or light it on fire, or run a sword through it or hire a hitman to take it out.
But the end result needs to be the same: it needs to be gone, destroyed, with no hope of recovery.
Every artist should do this regularly.
Do you know that we haven’t seen the majority of the poems Blake wrote? He would do this sort of thing. He didn’t want to feel like he was doing his art for the world.
Or, in his own words, “I should be sorry if I had any earthly fame, for whatever natural glory a man has is so much detracted from his spiritual glory.”
I don’t know if I fully agree with that philosophy, but I know one thing: it’s hell on earth for an artist to feel like you’re controlled, beholden to the world outside yourself. That it determines how good something you do is, that it gets some sort of say in your work as a judgment of yourself.
And yes, I know that your art doesn’t determine your self-worth, and I know that you already know that, and that you’re already in tip-top shape.
But sometimes… we need a dramatic reminder that the real reason we create, the real reason we dig deep and make the things we want to affect the world… the real reason is because it’s just a part of who we are, it’s just something we have to do, even if no one was listening, even if only G-d got to hear our message and our mind and our beauty.
Because today, in the age of the internet, it’s even more likely that we will start to get confused, and think a like on our Facebook page means something more real than it is, or that the hits our website gets are more significant than they are, or that the comments people make on our site, coming in by the boatload (or not coming in at all), get to have some sort of bearing on how we judge the work that we do.
And, even worse, when those things get more significant in our minds, they can start to determine the work that we do. Not in the healthy way, the way that means we are working off and communicating with our audience, but that we are determining our self-worth, our success, our quality, by likes and hits and comments and shares.
You and I, every now and then, we need to be beyond that. We need to create for G-d, we need to make something only He and we can see. And it should be good, something we would, in theory, share with others. Because only then will we realize that at the end of the day, it really is all just about G-d, about the fact that we create because we were implanted with something not so that we can get likes, but so that we can help imagine the world He wants to make and bring it through us.
Please join me, then, in an act of creative destruction. Make that beautiful masterpiece and burn it to the ground.
And remember that G-d wants you to do this for you and to do this for Him and the world he’s painted in his own mind.
Any glory, any attention, any criticism… anything else… is an after-effect.