In 2020, Ethan Hawke gave a remote TED Talk on the subject of creativity and permission, and I liked a lot of what he had to say here:
About defining "good":
I think that most of us really want to offer the world something of quality, something that the world will consider good or important. And that’s really the enemy, because it’s not up to us whether what we do is any good. And if history has taught us anything, the world is an extremely unreliable critic.
About why art matters:
Do you think human creativity matters? Well, hmm. Most people don’t spend a lot of time thinking about poetry. Right? They have a life to live, and they’re not really that concerned with Allen Ginsberg’s poems or anybody’s poems, until their father dies, they go to a funeral, you lose a child, somebody breaks your heart, they don’t love you anymore, and all of a sudden, you’re desperate for making sense out of this life, and, “Has anybody ever felt this bad before? How did they come out of this cloud?”
Or the inverse—something great. You meet somebody and your heart explodes. You love them so much, you can’t even see straight. You know, you’re dizzy. “Did anybody feel like this before? What is happening to me?” And that’s when art’s not a luxury, it’s actually sustenance. We need it.
On figuring out who we are as creative people:
First we have to survive, and then we have to thrive. And to thrive, to express ourselves, all right, well, here’s the rub: We have to know ourselves. What do you love? And if you get close to what you love, who you are is revealed to you, and it expands.