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People think that creativity is soft and fuzzy, that when the time is right and the stars are in alignment, creative endeavors will appear fully formed, as if by magic,  from the godlike hands of the artist.

Not true.

The conception of a creative enterprise may well require soft and fuzzy thinking but the execution of it requires a sustained, bloody-minded focus that most people can’t manage. They’re probably not selfish enough to begin with: they’re too kind, too selfless, too generous with their time – life just gets in the way for many people who could otherwise be painters or writers or whatever.

I’ve dug foundations on building sites that were easier to complete than some of my stories. Creativity requires discipline and hard, grinding work; without it nothing gets done. It requires too a stubborn refusal to give in despite every indication that you will not succeed.

Creativity can be its own worst enemy. It presents you with so many options, so many choices, so many routes and ideas that to be creative you must be ruthless, you must be pitiless in your culling of those plans that sound great, and might be great, but don’t take you exactly where you want to be.

Creativity can’t afford generosity in anything but the creative act. It’s not reasonable. It’s not off-white linen and waxed-wood furniture and soft lighting and enlightenment: that’s yoga. Creativity is a hard, demanding, severe discipline (actually, so is yoga). There’s a reason why so many successful artists are complete bastards. Creativity is not morally superior, creative people are not gifted with higher spiritual qualities any more than are athletes or bankers or plumbers; they are no more qualified to comment on or judge life’s mysteries and tragedies than anyone else. They just do.

It’s a compulsion.

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