March 15, 2021

Make Good Art

I have been obsessed with creating for as long as I can remember.

In third grade, my teacher (Mr. McCoy) made us write fictional short stories every week, then read those stories to our classmates. I wrote Superdog about a crime-fighting pup in a red cape. Writing and sharing Superdog's adventures made me happier than playing freeze tag at recess.

In fifth grade, my niece and I published a family newspaper called The News Express. We wrote articles ("Where's the lost remote?"), shared recipes plagiarized from my mom's cookbooks, and even included original crossword puzzles. I used The Print Shop software for artwork and printed copies on my dot matrix printer.

Ah, the eighties.

I discovered art in sixth grade and painted a few pieces that impressed my teacher (Mrs. Alexander), but when my masterpiece (a red rose so lifelike that it attracted bees) was rejected by the school's gallery, I walked away from a burgeoning art career.

I eventually rediscovered my true passion, writing.

I wrote a romantic short story in 1999. Two teenagers fell in love and lived happily ever after. Coincidentally, the two lead characters were myself and my high school crush. We dated briefly, but our ending wasn't nearly as happy.

Yes, I still have it. Yes, it's cringeworthy.

I wrote and edited a series of church curriculum books (The Great Adventure) from 2003 to 2004. I began blogging in 2005 and loved creating that online community of friends and strangers. I started writing my first novel in 2008. I conducted The Church Experiment (visiting 52 religious gatherings in 52 weeks) in 2009. I also wrote two short stories that year. In 2011, my friends and I made a short film (When a Bear Kicks Back) as a fun bachelor party experience.

Since then, I have written four additional novels. I've hosted three podcasts. I served as managing editor for Rebel Storytellers. I co-created a party game that made $20,000 on Kickstarter. I've written a comic strip. Oh, and our bear is ready to kick again. Time for a sequel!

I love creating. It's not even a choice. I need to create art like I need to breathe oxygen. People who don't write, paint, sculpt, photograph, sing, act, dance, or podcast are aliens to me. Perfectly fine human beings, but I don't understand life without the gnawing desire to make stuff.

Unfortunately, I haven't been wildly successful at any of it. But the older I get, the more I realize success isn't the point. Sure, I would love to be a famous writer or podcaster, but the real gift of creating art is the art itself. Both the process (I love writing in Starbucks while sipping a peppermint hot chocolate) and releasing a finished product to the world.

There's nothing like the feeling of creating something that wouldn't exist otherwise. It's a drug that I must inject into my veins over and over again.

We all have something to contribute. What's stopping you from creating your masterpiece?