Expect to Be Misunderstood

People who are not yet acquainted with their creativity will think you’re odd. If you’re fully invested in a creative vision, then they’ll suspect that you’re imbalanced. If they really admire what you’re doing, they may go the other extreme and hold you in awe. Either way, you are misunderstood. Whether your calling is to write novels or to help form cooperatives in Third World countries, you will encounter prejudice.

Perfectly fine people will think you are wasting your life if you don’t get a real job that gives you a nice retirement package. Perfectly loving friends and family members will keep waiting for you to grow up and get over this phase. Well-intentioned religious folks will worry about your dealing with dark and uncomfortable topics. You’re not going to escape these reactions. It’s up to you to find loving responses to them. Concentrate on people’s intentions rather that their aggravating theories and comments.

When people hear that I’m writing a story, they usually assume there’s some agenda. They wonder what “the point” is. They react with confusion when I say that I’m exploring a certain theme through these characters-that there is “no point,” at least not at the beginning. In our culture good, conscientious people come up with plans, steps and objectives. They are not conditioned to think in terms of a transcendent process. So any answers I give that don’t line up with an action plan create awkward silences in the conversation. I don’t take offense at this, but I assume that the only people who will really understand my creative life are those who are engaged in their own.

– from “The Soul Tells a Story: Engaging Creativity with Spirituality in the Writing Life” by Vinita Hampton Wright Loyola Press