You never know when or where you’ll find a little nugget.
I love that about the creative life—its serendipitous nature. Don’t you?
A few weeks ago, I was on a flight to Denver. For the first time in I can’t tell you how long, I was reading classic creative nonfiction work. Which, if you’re not familiar with that phrase, means essays that are part personal narrative and part a bunch of other literary elements.
One of the authors I was excited to read was E.B. White.
You’re probably familiar with White. He wrote Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little. And he also co-authored The Elements of Style, which has been a staple on writers’ shelves for decades.
But I’ve never been drawn to White for those works. I’ve been drawn to him, because he was a master essayist. Which, besides poetry, is the other love of my literary life.
In his essay, “Farewell, My Lovely,” White writes about life and the culture surrounding the Model T. He wrote that the buyer never thought of his new car as a finished product. “Driving away from the agency, hugging the new wheel between your knees, you were already full of creative worry.”
That’s the nugget that rolled off the page, as I read it, and into the rucksack of my imagination.
Full of creative worry.
It was a beginning, a process, because everyone, White writes, customized their Model T. An entire industry existed around customizing and maintaining the temperamental vehicle.
That’s the creative life.
It’s one full of creative worry, because nothing is ever really finished.
As authors and artists, we exist in the tension of incompleteness. One mixed with hope and disillusionment.
We’re like parents. We struggle and sacrifice and lose sleep for our little creations. We hold and stare at each little being we helped bring into the world.
And we are forever full of creative worry, aren’t we?
Because there is no end. There is no “finished”.
There is only right now.
And a few serendipitous possibilities.
From May 2012 to July 2013, I wrote a weekly series of intimate essays for writers and artists seeking a deeper connection with their identity and place as modern creatives. I called this series Root Notes. This was an essay in that series. It was originally published on May 16, 2012.