When & why did I kill creativity in my life?
When I was a little boy, I wanted to be a photographer. When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a writer. When I was a teenager, I wanted to be a businessman. When I was an adult, I wanted to be a writer. When I was also an adult, I wanted to be a photographer.
I chose one. I chose to be a writer, but not after I pursued being a business man. I was a fashion designer, which is creative, but not the kind of creativity that makes me excited. I did the bills. The financial stuff. The stuff that made the world seem simple and organized. I like accounting, but choosing business over writing or another creative field made me feel isolated.
I would go to work. Sit in my office. Process invoices, bills, payroll and taxes. I’d ship some garments. Received materials and supplies. Have lunch. Interact with my colleagues at work. Then I would go home, usually before 4. It was the most boring time of my life, but also a very interesting and empowering experience. It gave me the resources to pursue other career options, one of them being a writer.
I re-enrolled in college after 9/11. Actually, I had always taken night classes at Miami Dade (Community) College throughout the 90s while I ran my company. It was a community college back then and it kept me engaged and open to possiblities. I took classes in photography, Eastern Philosophy and creative writing. That’s where I met Michael Hettich, a creative writing professor at MDC.
He let us write. Well, that was his job, but he made it fun. Made it feel valuable. Gave writing the same level of respect as any other profession. I kept taking his classes until I re-enrolled at the University of Miami to finish my degree. I dropped out in 1993/4. I was a fine arts major with concentration in photography when I dropped out. Ironically, I now want to focs more now on my photographic work, but more on that later.
Anyway, I re-enrolled, got my degree and then applied to graduate school (at UM) where I pursued a MFA in English with a concentration in Creative Writing/Poetry. Since graduation, I’ve authored 5 books (2 solo and 3 collaborative) and I’m also a performing arts journalist.
Sometimes I wonder what my life would be like if I had decided to be a writer early on. Gave up on being a businessman and pursued a life as a writer. Sometimes I wonder would life would be like if I hadn’t had dropped out of UM and gotten a degree in photography.
In the end, which isn’t the end, but now, I’m a writer and a photographer–the two things I love the most but the two things that I’ve timidly pursued all my life. Why did I wait so long? Why did I try so hard to kill (or at least abandoned) my desire to be a creative person?
I grew up in a capitalist society that values money and wealth. Ironically, art (or creativity) isn’t valued (at least not owned) by society. Even though creativity creates tremendous value, it’s stigmatized, at least by the dominant culture. This, no matter how hard I tried, impacted my behavior, my choices, my creativity.
We can’t kill society or culture like society and culture can kill creativity.