(this is such an English student post)
I write, and so I create; I either create arguments in essays, worlds and characters in stories, or even marks on otherwise blank paper if you’re feeling particularly functional about it. But friends on my course are also creative, in completely different ways: a few of them are entering that publishing prize I’m bitterly regretting not entering, and hearing their ideas for stories was insane – they’re writing about time travel and reincarnation and shit, and creating narratives that span multiple generations and lives within their stories, all within 4,000 words.
And I wouldn’t like to say I’m totally uncreative, but looking back at the stories I’ve written – both unpublished things I’ll work on for the next seven hundred and thirty-one years, and published things like the Twelve Stories Of Christmas – my ‘creativity’ seems to mean forming slightly different kinds of apocalyptic worlds, or slightly differently-named caricatures based off the same original subjects. This means that I’m creative within boundaries, within the realm (or ‘genre’ even) of dark, violent thrillers and military sci-fi political warfare, where I can be inventive when it comes to forming societies and species and cultures and maybe even characters. But I’m uncomfortable stepping out of that mould, or I’m incapable of thinking of stories in the ways that others are; in all those twelve stories I wrote, I never once approached a narrative from the views of different people, for instance, nor did I link a single narrative through multiple generations or anything.
If you’ll permit me to use a shit metaphor, it’s like I can ride a bike, and ride it really well in loads of different places – uphill, downhill, on the flat, off-road, etc. so it looks like I can ride in a variety of ways. But other people are riding trikes, or unicycles, or elephants or some shit, which isn’t just a variation on the same theme that I can do, but something different altogether, that’s honestly more impressive and interesting.
I’m also not sure if this kind of creativity can be ‘learned’; creativity is always a bit you-have-it-or-you-don’t, but I can expand my repertoire of alien cultures to write about by reading other sci-fi novels, or rote-learning all the codex pages in the Mass Effect universe. I’m not sure I can become comfortable in being totally off-the-wall with my construction of stories by learning information in the same way.
But that’s not to say I won’t try; keep an eye out for stories with pretentious meta-narratives that all start in medias res for no reason over on the writing blog – I’ll probably start there.