You don’t know where the end will take you, but you do it anyways. It is your worship. Your calling.
I am a creative person. It is who I am. The creative urge engulfs me causing a knot in my chest, and only the act of creating untangles it.
You become a servant for the sake of creating, like a person who prays everyday till death—you sit down, see the blank screen, fingers to keyboard, and begin pressing keys. You have no idea what will come of it.
You don’t know where the end will take you, but you do it anyways. It is your worship. Your calling. You take from it as much as you give to it—only for the chance to come back from this creative place and say, “look at what I’ve made… I don’t know how, but I did it.”
Creative obligation. This is the first dilemma of a creative life.
William S. Burroughs, on the creative obligation, tells us, “The price an artist pays for doing what he wants is that he has to do it.” There is a never a day where you think, “I can retire and relax. I’m done creating.”
To pursue a creative life is to commit to a lifelong task and the idea of a life-sentence with you and your art, although joyful in many ways, is a daunting thing. In a way, it could be seen as courageous, but to understand that—we have to understand societies perception of art and how it affects us.
Society admonishes those who are not successful and romanticizes those who are. The romanticization of art makes the act of creating seem like a complete joy ride. Supposedly, if I can sit down and make the “magic” happen at will, I am gifted. If I can’t, delusional.
But creating is seasonal. We choose to work often because “the muse” shows up when it wants.
This is the second dilemma of a creative life, seasonal motivation.
In A.E. Hotchner’s memoir, PAPAHeminway, he shares his unique view of Earnest Hemingway’s life, “There is in him a sort of quiet rotation of seasons, with each of them passing overland and re-emerging in a kind of rhythm, refreshed and full of renewed vigor.”
Some days I feel on top of things. The work day goes well. My home is clean and life in order, but other days I have no control. Life takes its grip and reminds me of how fallible I am. Lost, unknowing, filled with many questions, too little answers, and you wonder, “where is this taking me?”
This uncertainty though, filling us with anxiety and horror for the future, is necessary.
Great work isn’t a product of a single thought or idea, just as it cannot be of a single season. When weathering the storm of our lives, during the cloudy and sunny days, our work forms into something authentic.
Without it, your work misses the point. It becomes idealistic and not about what is really important, the human condition.
Everything I create reflects upon my life. A mimicry of sorts, but more so an attempt to perceive life with child-like awe, every day, and the only way I know how is through creating. Transcribing our experience into art requires that we honestly give ourselves to the world. You expose your heart. This is the third dilemma.
Amanda Palmer tells us why we can only mimic our lives and must expose our hearts in the process of creating, “We can only connect dots that we collect, which makes everything you write about you. Your connections are the thread that you weave into the both that becomes the story only you can tell.”
Your art is you. This writing here is me. I am trying my best to be honest and show you what resides in my mind and heart, and am in the process giving you permission to enjoy it, learn from it, and if you so choose–destroy it… destroy me.
Inversely, I am compelled towards creative work. I must do it, and if you are similar, so must you. I pour my heart into my work for the chance it will return to me because if I don’t my heart will whither away.
Now that’s a dilemma. Having no other choice but to create, essentially making yourself vulnerable to those who may not care about your sensitivity.
Lastly, the creative life is full of child-like amazement. Even the smallest thing, like a droplet falling off a leaf into a vast pond causing a ripple to form, becomes amazing. Your job is to express this beauty.
The beauty can be about the intellectual mind, the world, or the act of retrieving from our imaginations.
To some extent, we are all artists.
Photo: Flickr/ Film Fledgling