Why do some writers get short shrift when considered for their level of creativity?
A friend asked me the other night if I used to do "creative writing." She's a very good friend, who had just seen my first solo Zoom play show. It was an act I appreciated, since there were friends and colleagues who had not. I told her that all writing was "creative," though stringing together words in different ways might be seen as creative in different ways rather than not creative at all. The conversation reminded me of a question posed to me many years ago by a neighbor of my parents who was an advertising writer. As was her husband. Who, though I didn't say it, should have known better. At the time I was working for a full-time job related to writing and editing; can't remember which one it was, only that in the years before my marriage I held a number of full-time jobs (as well as freelance assignments), either in medical magazines or nonprofits. One day, Alice, the neighbor, caught up to me at the elevator and asked what I was up to. I told her about whatever job it was I had. She nodded, semi-impressed. Then, after a pause, she asked if I ever do creative writing. I didn't pause at all before saying, "No. I only do uncreative writing." There was silence. Now, I knew what she meant. Her husband had written a few autobiographical books, whimsical, about his Italian American heritage. That clearly won the designation of "creative writing." But medical writing? Nonprofit communications? I felt I had been a little rude, but Alice never asked me that again. Why is it that writers are considered creative if they pen poetry, novels, short stories, and plays (some of which I now do), but not non-fiction or journalism? (Well, to be fair, there is now a category of creative non-fiction.) People who write music aren't divided into creative and "noncreative" ones. You may not like the music they create, but you don't declare them "uncreative." The same with dancers, musicians, directors, conductors. It's only writers. I have my theory why. I think it's because everyone writes -- whether they think they do or think they're great at it but don't have to spend their days glued to the computer. So writing is devalued, unless it's something other people don't do. But much as I understand it, I still say: all writing is creative. Stringing words together is creative. Not everyone can do it, and if they can, they can't do it on deadline several days a week. That is creative.