Wanting to write something about this.
Can you identify cultural cliches–or even personal mythology–about how writers and artists live?
Recently I’ve had people worry at me that they were too…something (neurotic, busy, single, married, young, old, etc.) to develop creatively.
Does poverty a la La Boheme aid or hinder art? Is a heroic self-image necessary, or just posturing? Being a parent–enriching or deal breaker? Or are external conditions really secondary to the creative spirit?
I have my suspicions, but no firm belief.
Tell me what you think!
I’m thinking again about Twyla Tharp’s marvelous Creative Autobiography questionnaire. This is the first question. The second: Was anyone there to witness or appreciate it?
Care to share you experiences?
A beautiful essay on reading, emotional stress, and War and Peace:
“One day in seventh grade I ordered my usual stack of books from the Scholastic Books Service; one of them was an abridged version of Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace. A little skeptical, I figured I could skip past the peace parts if they proved too boring. When the nine or so books I’d ordered finally arrived I saved Tolstoy’s novel for last—even abridged, the book was 500 pages long, longer than any book I’d ever read before. But its length was not the challenge, not in the way the vocabulary of Henry Huggins had been for me years ago. The challenge was of an entirely different order.” https://themillions.com/2010/04/every-day-i-open-a-book.html
Also–selected crafted posts from Graham:
Do click to enlarge.
I just had supper with Julia Deisler, who showed me this. She was thinking visually about how writing develops. So this isn’t just about painting, although it works that way as well. Enjoy! I like that it shows jumps, s well as more gradual expression.
What beliefs did you have about yourself that have now changed?
Tasia Karoutsos: That I’m bad at math, can’t understand complex science, and that I should pursue creative writing. Turns out I prefer analytic thinking. Wish I’d figured that out before I started my career!
Tasia Karoutsos: I also used to think all of my body hair was thick, dark, and hideous, so I would shave the “normal” bits, as well as my arms, tummy, and toes. Adult me has gained back a lot of time by letting go of that insecurity
Isabel Winson-Sagan: I believed there was some sort of ultimate reality or truth that I could get to if I worked on it. It took me a long time to understand that human consciousness is much more about holding multiple, often conflicting, truths simultaneously. And that this has nothing to do with “reality” (what a problematic concept!). Also that I would be an English teacher when I grew up as a fall back because I had no real passion for anything! Sorry mom
My social media feed is often full of things telling me how to think and feel. I must do this, I must do that, eat this, that, not this, that, protest this, that, agree with, disagree with…the list is endless. Much as I enjoy hearing what others are doing and thinking, I don’t like being subjected to a barrage of control. I feel that ideas and actions are being increasingly policed, but in ways I find repetitious, not revelatory.
What really set me off was a Facebook response to a privately sponsored writer’s residency that paid a stipend. No good deed goes unpunished as the offer was attacked from every possible angle—including that they didn’t fund authors enough! I’ve been involved with the vision of possible residency using a Tiny House, and I found this conversation downright depressing.
Then it occurred to me I don’t have to worry. My family tried to control me and I left New Jersey the day after high school graduation. Just a heads up to the universe-—bossing me around does’t work as a form of communication.
I am, however, a willing servant to my autumn blooming roses and my dirty suminagashi tray…Photo by Isabel Winson-Sagan
My favorite small private class is back in session. I’ll ask you what I asked them:
1. What did you accomplish creatively over the summer? Writing, inspiration, special reading, habits, or? Publication, readings, outreach, and professional life?
2. And, what are your creative goals for autumn?
What aides you in accomplishing these goals?
What stands in your way?
About a year ago, the creative duo of Maternal Mitochondria applied for a small grant we did not get. Nothing unusual there. We thought we were right in their catchment area according to the call, but when we reviewed what they funded we could easily see—it just wasn’t us. Plus it was very competitive. That said, this is a usual enough occurrence. We apply to a lot of things, and often get rejected as well as getting accepted a fair amount.
So, what is of interest here?
I reviewed our proposal, which was for three projects. None of them seemed very pricey so I started to wonder if we could do them without the grant. And it seems like we can—and will.
The first was to do an all ages workshop of suminagashi and poetry and install a geocache walk in a public space. Well, we’re set up to do just that with the support of the Railyard Park in Santa Fe in August.
The second project was to do a geocache path of our own art and poetry. This project has really taken off, and is going to be a permanent site off Route 14. Our resource here, instead of the grant, is my son-in-law Tim Brown who is designing nine amazing spirit houses out of scrap metal. These will be containers for changing shows, but they are sculptural works of art all by themselves.
The third project was to geocache works of individual women artists which they’d installed near their studios/houses. We’d asked for small honorariums for this. This project hasn’t happened yet, although a variant will be a pop-up show curated at the Santa Fe Poetry Garden in the fall. But thinking about it now, it seems like it would be easy enough to get artists to participate without honorariums—or just to find another donor for this modest budget.
Of course a grant is good for visibility. However, I have learned over the years that hoping to be validated from the outside isn’t a position of strength. As artists, we don’t want to have to first please others in authority before we can create. We need to just go for it. However, this is much more doable if we are working in community, in collaboration, on teams, and with our friends, family, and neighbors. Money is a great resource, but when it is scarce there are substitutes.
So we’ll keep applying for things. And keep making art.
Life does not always co-operative with my goals or my attempts at serenity. Sometimes I have days or weeks where I’m not very creative. One of my practices is to embroider one thread a day.
I’m working on a tablecloth–mundane, printed, a kit. Cross-stitch. It’s big. Sometimes I imagine that at the rate I’m going I’ll never finish it. I gave up on following the suggested colors years ago. I’m just filling it in with blocks of whatever strikes my fancy. As cross-stitch, it mostly all goes in the same direction, until dyslexia strikes.
Really, I don’t want to finish it. It’s going to be a pretty goofy tablecloth and I suspect too large for my table. Plus, I just like cross-stitching it.