Cultivating Creativity

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. Galatians 6:7 NKJV

I sense I may take some crap for quoting a Bible verse, but whatever your feelings on religion you have to admit that as literature the Bible is all kinds of awesome (that’s a post for a different day), and the latter part of this quotation should be familiar to most people whatever their (non)faith.

People do tend to use this verse to support their belief that obnoxious people will get their comeuppance:

Photo of twitter posts.

And I’m not above seeing that happen, but I like to think about the positive side to this aphorism: if you sow good things, you’ll reap good things.

This has a personal implication for all of us – if you won’t put time and effort into the things you want to do, then you won’t get a great result. But there we fall into the danger of perpetuating the myth of the self-made man. It doesn’t all rest on us. At some point we will have benefitted from a stroke of luck; a connection in the right place; we turned left instead of right, bumped into a stranger, and discovered while helping them pick up the notes they’d dropped that they’re the reclusive maths genius who can solve the equation that will make the time machine work. Or, you know, whatever your thing is. Conversely, some people don’t get that break: despite all their hard work they don’t get funding; they never shake off the injury that’s preventing them from sportsball stardom; the time machine doesn’t work.

Sowing, you see, is not just about self-improvement: it’s also about becoming someone else’s helping hand. And I picked this translation deliberately, because it recommends specificity: “whatever a man sows, that he will also reap”. As someone who is transitioning from casual to serious writer, I’m well aware of how hard it is to make art pay enough to cover living expenses, and very grateful to the people in my life who are supporting me. And, while I don’t have a lot to spare, I firmly believe in investing what I can in other artists / creatives – whether that’s regular contributions to a Patreon, supporting the occasional Kickstarter, donating to initiatives like NaNoWriMo’s Young Writers Program, or offering my time and skills.

I can’t do everything, but I can choose to support and encourage organisations and individuals whose work I admire. I’m not expecting a direct turnaround when it comes to reaping what I’ve sown; perhaps it will be years in coming, and it probably won’t look how I expect. And perhaps what I’m reaping is the joy to be found in helping someone else, a joy that inspires my passion for my own creative work.