If you had asked me in my teens or twenties if I would ever do creative writing, I probably would have laughed disdainfully and said, “Who, me?”. I didn’t even like poetry and as for prose that was what one did for academics. So what happened? Was there always a creative muse in there just waiting to be freed by the intense experience of my illness or did the illness “turn on” the creativity gene?
I imagine that some people affected by cancer have always seen themselves as creative and their creativity continues to flourish with such rich material in the emotions that are generated from having a serious illness.
Perhaps others are like me and never saw themselves as being creative. What gets people creating? What is the spark? Is it just the self-confidence to say “I am creative and I have the right to create?” Can anyone be creative if they believe they are creative? Does the intensity of emotions in this situation build up and force itself to be expressed in some way? Does the feeling that you might die, free you up from the self-consciousness that might normally keep you from creative expression?
There are growing numbers of art, music, drama and dance therapy programs for cancer patients. I probably would not have self-identified as someone who could make use of one of these programs in the early stages of my illness. It wasn’t until years after I started writing that I realized how much my poems and prose were helping me process my experience.
How did you start creating? How do we spark creativity in others?