Today, I was reintroduced to the beauty of pure creativity.

I was at a coffee shop with an old friend, a multi-talented artist. As we caught up, I marveled at the eager abandon with which she discussed her recent creative projects.

To her, these projects weren’t even projects… a cosplay costume, a stageplay, a poem turned into a song, these were things she did for the love of them. There was no worry about the market for her work, no wondering if the caliber of her art was good enough for the ubiquitous “them.”

And in her eyes, I briefly saw the truth that’s escaped me for years:

Art matters because it means something to the artist. And even if it no one else ever saw it, it would still have just as much meaning.

True art, I think, is diluted by ambition, because it is its own ambition.

Art itself is a deeper, more intimate ambition. It is the purest ambition: to create, to explore, to take something from inside yourself (a dream, a question, an idea) and make it tangible.

Even as I write this, another part of me is defending my ambitions to make a living writing or hit the bestsellers. After all, I feel these strong ambitions because I love making art and want to be able to do it full time. And there’s nothing wrong with that as a goal…

… But somewhere, in my ambitions to build a career as an artist, I find I have forgotten the most essential ambition of art and replaced it with something far more sensible and safe. And in that, I’ve lost my first and driving love. Writing has become one more job, one more of the goals I’m ever falling short of.

The harsh truth: it is far easier to make endless word count goals and read endless self-help writing blogs than it is to stop, and breathe, and just create.

The beauty of art for the artist is that it beckons us to drop our fears, our cynicism, our “need” to be approved by others.

The beauty is that, though our fears so often come to the forefront while trying to make art, we can trade our people-pleasing ambition for the ambition of art.

… and in that, find joy.