The Dream - Book illustration by artist and illustrator Duncan Long

The Dream - Book illustration by Duncan Long

Creative people often feel highs of joy and lows of sorrow that others may never experience, and perhaps could not even handle if they did. Little wonder many outside the creative world mistake (or dismiss) eccentric responses of the spirit as weakness or mental illness.

But in the end, these dismissive souls will never know what it is to be moved to tears by the beauty of rose or brought to joy by sunlight filtering through the leaves of spring or autumn.

The creative walk in glades invisible to those outside their realms.

If you’re creative (or live with someone who is), here are three links that may be of interest:

The Unleashed Mind: Why Creative People Are Eccentric by Dr. Shelley Carson

And an except from the musical Sunday In The Park With George in which the main character sings about the compulsion to complete work rather than have a life: Finishing the Hat

Finally, the guest post I did for Dr. Shelly Carson’s Blog (with some interesting comments by Carson and others).

"The Narrator" an illustration by artist Duncan Long for Poe's Poem

"The Narrator" an illustration by artist Duncan Long

I want to make it clear that I don’t feel creative people are necessarily superior to those around them. Only that they’re different. Sometimes this difference is a plus. Often it’s a handicap.

The creative brain operates in ways very similar to synesthesia, a neurological condition in which one sensory pathway bleeds over into another so that a person may see a color when reading a certain number, or smell music, etc. The difference is that many creative people have emotional areas of the brain tied into visual or other parts that are not normally connected, so that a beautiful flower, sunset, or whatever may also trigger an emotional response. Thus while a non-creative person might be somewhat moved by, say, a bird singing, a highly creative person with the interwoven brain pathways may experience a rush of very complex emotions sparked by a bird song.

The extra circuitry within the creative brain also makes it easier to “see” relationships between ideas, objects, and so forth (perhaps relationships that indeed aren’t really there). These new-found associations can then act as a springboard to new ideas.

Also worth noting, like those suffering from synethesia, creative children are often hounded into hiding the feelings, ideas, and emotions sparked by their brain activity due to teachers (and peers) who tag creatives as “emotional,” “overly sensitive,” “tenderhearted,” and the like. The bravest creatives soldier on to become writers, artists, and musicians; the weaker or most abused likely fall to the way side, beaten into submission by the bean counters of the world.

At least that’s my very, very biased view and likely less than scientific take on the situation.

When not pondering creativity, Duncan Long works as a book cover artist creating illustrations like those show above. Over 1,000 of his illustrations have appeared on book covers or in books from HarperCollins, PS Publishing, Pocket Books, ILEX, Asimov’s Science Fiction, Moonstone Books, and many other presses and self-publishing authors. See more of Long’s book illustrations at: Duncan’s Book Illustration Portfolio