The Eternal Pressure Of Success And Failure


I stumbled across a TED the other day, where the Eat, Pray, Love author, Elizabeth Gilbert talks of how historically artists and their consumers believed that their “genius” or creativity came from an external source, or more specifically a spiritual being. She speaks of how this belief removed the responsibility and the eternal pressure of success vs. failure. This freed the artist up to explore the full vulnerable extent of their creativity. She also eludes to her belief that it is exactly this same pressure that cripples today’s artists and is ultimately driving some to depression or worse, suicide.


I found all of that interesting. Not so much the bit about the dark ominous cloud that is supposed to hang perpetually over anyone claiming to be ‘serious’ songwriter, artist, poet or writer. That’s been discussed to death (no pun intended). The notion of creativity coming from an external place got me thinking.

I probably risk sounding a bit strange, but there have definitely been (and still are) times in my creativity where I’ve felt a little disconnected from the process. Not to say that I put myself into my very own hybrid trance before writing a short, but there are times when I step away from the keyboard thinking ‘where the hell did that come from?!’. I sat down expecting and planning to write my protagonist into a certain place and jeopardy, but by the time I finish my session he’s somewhere completely different facing things I could not have imagined, but the thing is, apparently I did!

I’ve heard many artists, speak of how they’ve heard melodies or seen plot ideas in their dreams. I’ve also heard vocalists, speak of not being able to recreate a recording. ‘It was just in that moment!’ I know this argument has a foundation as unstable as the European economy, and I know most sane, level headed people, will argue that it’s simply the mind, our imagination, experiences and ultimately ourselves that come out on to the page, canvas or recording session. I think they’re right, in fact I know they are, but I would also add that true, *eureka soaked artistic inspiration comes from somewhere a special. That isn’t to say that it comes fully formed. It still needs work, but its stem is still a little bit celestial.

* Just to clarify, I am by no means claiming that my writing is in anyway derived from eureka soaked artistic inspiration; only that I’m a little stranger than you.

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image – YouTube