In yesterday's post, I admitted (sheepishly) that I had dabbled in fan fiction as a child.
This is not something I readily admit to people. Like, no one really goes around publicizing the strange hobbies of their youth — especially if they're as embarrassing as writing (probably terrible) Harry Potter fan fiction.
But something strange happened last night. Once I was done writing for the day, I crawled into bed and opened the next book on my reading list (I am working toward a goal to read at least 50 books in 2017; this was No. 12) — Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon.
If you're not familiar with Kleon, he is an Austin-based artist and writer known for creating newspaper blackout poems. I've been aware of Kleon for a few years and even receive his weekly e-newsletter, but hadn't yet gotten around to reading his books. Steal Like An Artist is a very quick read (I finished it in about an hour), and it is broken into "10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative."
Honestly, it was a revelation.
I've been somewhat tortured over the past several weeks wrapping my mind around starting this blog/website, consumed with the idea that I don't have anything original to say. There's nothing special about me or my writing, so what's the point?
Kleon would argue that the point is exactly what I was missing. The entire book is based on the idea that nothing is original. There are no original people. No original ideas. No original experiences.
And this isn't a bad thing.
I've been easing back into this creativity thing. I was a pretty creative kid, even into my teenage years, but somewhere along the line it was replaced with what some people call "real life" — finding a job after college, grad school, internships, salaries, rent, loan payments — and probably a fair bit of laziness.
But as I've started to feel the urge again, I've been a little scared. What does this look like? What do I write about? What if nobody reads me?
Kleon has an answer for that, too.
Talk about picking up the right book at the right time.
Later on, Kleon even talks about fan fiction. Kleon wrote his own sequel to Jurassic Park when he was 10 because he loved it so much. In this example, he's expanding on the book's central theme of creating something out of something.
So maybe I shouldn't have been so sheepish about my childish fan fiction. After all, I was really just writing my own stories about those characters because I loved them so much. I wrote what I wanted to read, and that's not a complete waste of time.
I borrowed Kleon's book from the library on my Kindle app, but it's definitely one I'm going to pick up in hard copy to reference whenever I need to. There are so many great nuggets in there, and I could write about them all. Maybe I'll come back to it here someday, but for now, it's a read I truly recommend for those seeking a little bit (or a lot!) more creativity in their lives.