Monday, July 9, 2012

Beauty and Beast of a creative mind

I spent some time today with a fellow writer. Someone who has had a really rough couple of years and is struggling - with family responsibilities, sickness, aging parents, personal relationships and of course in today's Ireland - financial constraints.

My friend is a beautiful woman. A woman with a beautiful mind. A woman with an incredible talent. She is caring, charismatic and empathetic. But she's stretched. With everything that has happened in her life she finds it extremely difficult to find/make/take time to create. And here is the paradox of having a creative mind. Whatever the discipline - music, literature, dance, visual - it's not just a job, a career or a hobby - it is your very reason for living. And if you do not tend that creativity it shrivels up and sours you inside - leaving you as an empty shell - functioning yes but all the time knowing you are not doing what you should be doing. Your raison d'etre.

Having a talent for something is both a wonder and a curse. A wonder because when you unearth your talent it gives you a direct line to the sublime. It is the greatest kick you will ever get in your life - better than the first rush you get when you're falling in love, better than feeding whatever addiction you have. Divine. It makes you happy.

It can also make you bloody miserable because sometimes the work isn't going the way you want it to go or you thought it would go. What you thought was fabulous, shining and full of passion when you were writing it turns out to be turgid crap. You're carving out minutes for yourself to work between tending to the needs of others and can begin to resent the fact that you cannot spend all your time on feeding your creativity. Then you feel guilty for feeling that resentment. When I write I feel I am indulging myself because, let's face it, the world doesn't give a shit whether I use the gift given me (if it is in fact given or innate) or not. I tend to think that I should be doing something with my family, earning more money to help them or even cleaning the bloody house. The curse of the Irish Mammy! The creative mind can be a very lonely place - it is hard to explain to others the  way it works. Most creative ventures need solitude, listening to the sound of silence, intererpreting what you see/hear, you become quite intense and driven, shutting out family, friends work colleagues everyday life. The self-doubt can be crippling and don't get me started on the procrastination!

And yet - you are blessed with it. This desire to create something that can explain the world as you see it to others. No matter what happens - whether your work gets delayed for a time because of logistical reasons or needs to be left to brew until it can be made better (note the way stew is always nicer on the second day!)- it will still be there when you have the time to return to it. Then you can dive right in and rewrite, rewrite rewrite until it is as good as you can make it.

So I told my friend she should be nice to herself. Breathe, read, laugh enjoy family moments and stop worrying about things over which she have no control. Love herself. Be mindful of the moment - it works.

Now if only I could take my own advice!

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