Childbirth & Creativity
Childbirth is a rite of passage for women, I believe. One of the most obvious and striking differences between men and women is the woman’s ability to conceive and bear new life. This is not to condemn or pass judgement on women who are or have been unable to conceive. Barrenness has historically been regarded as something extremely tragic and I mourn with those who have experienced it while being extremely grateful for my effortless conceptions.
The rest of this blog post is going to be about the correlations between pregnancy, childbirth, and how they are informative of the creative process.
Anything worth doing in life is hard. I just wrote life in the previous sentence without any hard work but to even get to a life a lot of work has to have occurred. Being pregnant is hard and I say that fully recognizing that I have had two easy and non-eventful pregnancies. In spite of having easy pregnancies I would never say I loved being pregnant. I love the finished product of my pregnancies but being pregnant isn’t exactly a walk in the park. Delivering a child is hard and yet, ironically, I look back on my births as joyous events. Why? Because that pain brought two of my greatest creations. This is what the creative process is like. When I see a painting I have made on my walls, I don’t think about all the negative feelings I had when I was actually creating that painting. I see the painting and appreciate it but I know back when I made the painting I thought I had ruined it at least a dozen times. But of course, I look at my paintings and think how pretty they are and how I should paint more.
Creativity is like giving birth. It’s labor. It’s hard. It takes time. Inspiration is essentially having an orgasm. It’s fun. But for it to fully develop into a new life, it must be carried for months, and then it must be delivered. Or perhaps inspiration is one of those first real kicks that you feel when you’re pregnant. It’s a jolt. You feel it and think wow this is really happening. The sonograms you saw before were cool because you saw the baby but now you’ve felt the baby. That’s what inspiration does it lets you feel it and feelings are exciting. Feelings are a motivating force. When you have an idea for a painting or a song you think oh this is a good idea and you might pursue it. But for that idea to bloom into that painting or song you have to actually sit down and work on the painting or write that song. And sitting down and doing the work can be hard. We procrastinate about it. We say, never mind that wasn’t a good idea. You say you want a baby, but then you wind up in a hospital or are at home in the middle of a painful contraction and you think why am I here? How did I get here? I’m never doing this again. I literally thought these thoughts at least a dozen times during my first labor. Pain is one of those things that it’s hard to really describe unless you are currently experiencing it. Being in labor in many ways is not as hard as our society thinks it is. Movies and television shows portray it either in a comedic way or in a horrific way and I wouldn’t describe labor in either of those terms, especially the latter. But we will put up with pain and labor for a good cause and having a baby is the best reason to put up with some pain. They’re magical. And a little pain for some magic is worth it. This is what happens when we create, we want some magic but in order to bring a work of art to life it must be born and birth is painful.
How many times do we think as artists this isn’t good enough? Or I should just give up? What we are really experiencing is that doing art despite all our natural or learned artistic abilities is challenging and laborious. We hit this bump on our creative road and think I’m a fraud, I’m not a real artist, when in reality this “bump on our creative road” is birth pains. This is really a contraction and contractions lead somewhere if you breathe with them. The common phrase, “no pain, no gain” comes to mind and is spot on. The only way to have a bundle of magic is to labor and the only way to have a work of art is to labor. Don’t give up. Breathe with it.
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