Creative Lies We Tell Ourselves

There's a reason "analytical" begins with the four letters it does

Amethysta Herrick
Amethysta Herrick
Sailor Eris, Guardian of Discord and Dings - image by the author via Midjourney

I received my first electric guitar as a gift for my 17th birthday. That's more years than I care to consider before my birthday this month, when I turn 54.

Over the course of almost four decades, my love of playing guitar waxed and waned. Some years I threw myself into play like the teenager I was. Other years, I was too pale and tragic to consider an activity as mundane as personal expression through music.

In 2024, I tend to forget to play if I don't write it down. Part of me wants to write this off as the effect of age, but in truth, many other efforts demand my time these days. On any given day, I write, conduct podcast interviews, chat on social media, or appear in other podcasts to discuss my life and transgender experience.

But this last - speaking in depth about my life - has shown me truths about myself I can no longer ignore. Frankly, I almost wish I could ignore them, because opening these packages of dissociated and dismissed feelings forces me to deal with them. I have enough thoughts competing in my head to confront one more misidentification I made about myself over the course of my life.

However, after long debate and difficult wrestling in the dead of night across decades, I realize this now: I am creative. I am an Artist.

And Goddess bless...I am good at it.

Walking The Artist's Way

In 2023, I wrote a series of articles as I read through and practiced Julia Cameron's "The Artist's Way" (published here, with no paywall). I described the two major tools in The Artist's Way as nothing short of revolutionary.

Morning Pages opened up critical introspection. The Artist Date forced self-care. Simple tools with powerful effects.

I applied the process of self-discovery and self-acceptance not to artistic endeavors, but to life, especially a transgender life. Yes, I am valuable without working 80-hour weeks. Yes, I bring beauty into this world in a way unique to my life experiences. Yes, I am a human with a spirit that screams for expression in any medium. Yes, I am.

I did not fully connect the process to my acts of creativity. I didn't play any more guitar than I had before. I didn't write poetry or sketch daisies (Whoopsie or otherwise). I didn't buy a paint set and stand on a cliff in the Rocky Mountains, washing the colors of sunset across canvas until the night sky called me home.

Nope. I continued writing about science and philosophy, analyzing my thoughts and categorizing them into theories of identity and gender. My academic bent - obviously - continues into 2024.

I had a few prosaic pieces inspired by depression or mental health breakdowns. I indulged in silly photo and video challenges I set for myself. But an Artist? Not me, not here, no way.

Hard lessons from Generation X

I was taught from an early age I was too clumsy, too weak, too nerdy, too science-y to partake in art or dance or creative writing. I heard these truths, and I believed them.

To be clear, nobody sat me down and said "Listen, kid, I have bad news. You lack a creative instinct and couldn't find art in a Simon and Garfunkel song. We're sorry, but we're going to send you to chemistry class so you can live out your life with your own kind."

No. What happened instead was more subtle and more deadly.

I was never encouraged to create. I never knew somebody believed in me. I never felt if I tried something new, I would be applauded, whether I excelled or tanked.

It's easy to write my experience off as the common plight of a quiet kid born to Silent Generation parents, transgender in an age when we didn't exist - were barely named yet. Maybe that explains why I didn't try to express myself. Maybe it explains why I was hesitant to stick my neck - I art - out in the world.

I knew the world was a scary place. My parents taught that lesson exceptionally well.

Instead, I grew into an adult believing I could create nothing. My songs were poorly written, my guitar playing a cheap knockoff of Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

If my only talent - playing guitar - was as stunted as I believed it was, I wouldn't bother writing or drawing or painting or dancing. Certainly the world would be better off spared from my ham-fisted attempts at expression.

Nope, I was a science nerd. I was a computer geek. I was made to be ugly, gawky, awkward, and other words of onomatopoeic indictment of my unfitness to be loved as part of the creative current of the Universe.

Oh, well. It takes all kinds, right? Better luck next lifetime, kid.

Rewriting the lesson book

But I have been very fortunate. I got another life - this one through gender transition. For the past year and a half, I've written about how gender transition freed me to investigate, to introspect, to intrude on low-level ideas of who I am and what I need to do in this world.

I started writing, then podcasting. I started making videos, some with real acting - at least, as much as can come out of me in a time limit of 90 seconds.

I didn't do any of the above because I was creative. Oh, hell, no.

I did them because I had time. I did them because I had to. I just did them.

And now I've done several public speaking events - describing my gawky and awkward self to an unknown and unseen audience who likely never judged me as harshly as I did myself.

What I discovered over the course of the past two months is still percolating, still simmering. It's not quite ready to be served - even to myself. The taste I will serve now comes with difficulty. I shudder to believe it all myself.

I was never too science-y to be creative.

I was never too gawky to be beautiful.

I was never too awkward to have something important to say.

I told a new friend of mine - Chris is his name - that gender transition made me become. I became Amethysta. I became creative. I became a woman with a mission to change the world.

The truth is, all I became was aware.

Aware I am creative.

Aware I am beautiful.

Aware the world could be for me, too.

As Kelly Clarkson sings it, I know I’ve got this ‘cause I've had it all along.

Magical humanity

When Julia Cameron wrote everybody is an artist, we just don't realize it yet, I believed it. I didn't believe it about myself, of course, but I did believe other people could be artists.

Other people could and should live as the beautiful souls I know they are. Other people have a magical spark within that scintillates in a Sailor Moon transformation as they become.

I write it here in the hope I believe it in my heart one day: I am creative. Just like you are creative.

Each of us has magic inside. Still in the throes of gender transition, I learn about my magic as I share it with the world.

But I've also learned none of us has magic spontaneously burst outward - that only happens to Sailor Moon. In this world, we have to feed tinder to our spark, then kindling, then fuel - and with luck, we may roar into blazing life.

At 52 years old, I was gearing up for death. I expected a long decline and a quiet passing, never to be known.

Two years later, I am glowing up for life. I expect a long, bright (and maybe still quiet) life as who I truly am.

Yes, I am Amethysta. Yes, I am creative. Yes, I am worth everything I intend to manifest. Yes, I am.

This is all obvious, and I continue to learn it in new lessons from all sides. I am, after all, human - just like the rest of us magical beings.


Amethysta Herrick

Ami is a transgender woman dedicated to exploring identity and gender. She is Editor-in-Chief of Purplepaw Publications, LLC.

The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the offical policy or position of Purplepaw Publications, LLC. Please view the Disclaimer page for further information.