Photo by Rafay Ansari / Unsplash

Living as a Creative Being, For Better or Worse

Editorials Aug 14, 2023

by G. Chaver

We know what is considered the list of necessities: water, food, air, sleep, clothes, and shelter. When those things are threatened, what becomes a new necessity? For me, it became creativity. I am an avid believer in its power as a tool for healing, but it is more than even that; as I grew, it was something I used to survive. I would always say “I write because I have to write,” for I did not know any other way of expressing myself or getting out what I needed to from my head. I was bruiseless but wasn’t painless. I didn’t have scars to show what I’d been through; there was no proof. So I wrote, documenting my history in real-time through music, poetry, and stories. This methodology has remained a constant throughout my life.

Music became my tool for verbalizing what I struggled to express without a melody. Cover songs were coded messages for me to stand up to those causing harm. Soon, it moved into songwriting and poetry which granted me the power to turn pain into something beautiful. It reminds me of the art of kintsugi; there are broken parts of myself that were shattered before me, that I know I can never entirely piece back together in a shiny, new fashion. So what am I to do if forced to still carry them? Sweep up the mess–turn on some music and dance around as I do so–and sprinkle glitter and gold into the seams. Maybe I can never fully heal, but to be better and make someone feel something is the challenge I have given myself.

Now, I have a confession to make: I am a retired fanfiction writer. Yes, I was indeed one of those fangirls desperately crushing on the fictional boy who would never know I existed. However, when I was the one writing the script, he would come to meet someone inspired by me. My story was an escape and salvation, a reasonable excuse to lock myself away in my room over the entirety of a spring break I spent under the roof of my abuser. “Not now, I’m writing!” I would exclaim, determined to stay focused on my craft. Luckily enough, creativity was respected in my household. I might not have grown up playing video games, but writing stories was my Minecraft, building a world for myself through characters who processed my lived experiences in ways I could not yet aloud. Even when I no longer needed them as a vessel for my tribulations in real- time, they continued to provide a space in which I could explore how to heal from the longer-lasting symptoms of trauma, such as the complex relationship with those who enabled and contributed to my abuse. I found my version of closure without ever having to make contact with those who would call me a disrespectful daughter to this day.

Staying silent has never felt like something I can live comfortably with. My gut will win –the annoying one who nags at me as if it is starving, stabbing from within until my thoughts fly out, inconsiderately forgetting to hesitate and question how much energy will be spent replaying in rumination for nights to come. During my formative adolescent years, I attended a camp that proclaimed itself to be a “feminist camp disguised as a music camp,” rich with the indoctrination into Riot Grrrl culture and social justice workshops scattered between music classes and bonding band rehearsals. It was there I learned to be brave by being my naturally weird self, a childhood confidence I long to cling tighter to again someday. This time I swear I would not let it slip from my grasp again, or at least I would try harder. By exploring my identity as a musician, by having a chance to take center stage and sing my words, in my voice, with my heart on the line, I felt like I could empower not only myself but others. Even if it was a fantasy, it was mine to live in for a week of summer each year. This experience was proof, in my eyes, that by putting music and justice in conversation, empowerment through creativity became a key component in my development.

For better or worse, I have chosen to share the details of my life with the world in these creative contexts. The worse: for litigious reasons, I had a tough conversation with myself about what pseudonym to choose. The better: I have opportunities like this to share my story in artistic spaces. Nevertheless, I am not filled with regret about what I am doing. Even when it remains hard, I try to force myself to sit with that discomfort rather than run from it. Perhaps you will see it in my next piece, whatever kind it may be.