Creativity takes courage. A gothic word.

French painter Henri Matisse set it straight for us when he said “Creativity takes courage”. To be artistic because you have a ‘talent’ is never as easy as the world seems to think it is. Matisse’ words resonate with me deeply this week as I receive critique on the query letter I have written for my novel. I’ve had to look back and address why I want to do this. And then – knowing what motivates me – I have to look forward again.

creativity takes courage. J R Manawa.

If you like to write you should do something about it, right? When I was nine I wrote my first book, partially because I had to for school book week, but mostly because I wanted to tell a really awesome story about a girl who has a pet lion as a regular part of her everyday life. The plot thickens when she decides to take that lion on an outing to the local shopping mall.

Unrealistic? Absolutely! But I was privileged enough to be blessed with an imagination free to roam as far and wide as it pleased, all I had to do was harness the power of that beautiful, untameable creature. By eleven I was writing a novella every other month.

At sixteen my mother put her foot down on my imagination and more or less ordered me to do something about it. You should note that by this stage I’d already spent four years of my life relentlessly working on my first novel, and she probably assumed I had no real life. She dumped a newspaper in front of me, folded to the page advertising a nationwide short story competition. Entries closed two days from the moment that paper hit the table. “Enter it,” she said. “Or not.” I retorted. “Or else,” she hedged, “why keep writing?” I whined, I argued, I am not a short story writer, I labelled myself. Eventually I saw the light and did it. Forty-eight hours.

I didn’t win. However, I emerged triumphant with a certificate edged in gold that told me I was one of the top ten finalists from across the country. Forty-eight hours considering, I was pretty chuffed, all the more because I now had parental blessing to return the creative cave in my mind and thrash pens, or keyboards as I preferred – I cannot write as fast as I think. Thank God for computers!

Jump back a paragraph and know that first novel is still my chimera, my mythical beast that I chase, and one day just maybe, it might get published. If not, I’m cooking up fresh meat also. Watch this space.

Is this a biography you ask? Sort of. I struggle to write from experience, reality often bores me. Having said that, all of my writing is influenced by my experiences in life; the people I meet, places I see, and situations I get myself into. When I do happen to write from experience, I lace it like a hash cookie with sprinklings of my imagination. But all you read now is true. At least I am honest.

Fast-forward to the present and I’m four novels written, no attempts at publishing yet. But I am positive, I’ve only just begun to open the doors of my mind to share with the wider world. I’m confidence building and flexing my creative muscles as I go. There is a lot to learn and a lot to edit, but if for that one moment I have you hooked – on that first word, sentence, paragraph – and you can close your eyes and see that picture I am painting, then I am a storyteller, and I am winning.

Written by JR Manawa

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