In Natalie Goldberg’s book, Wild Mind: Living the Writer’s Life, she offers advice on how to write, why we might write, the difference between monkey mind and wild mind, and how to travel from one to the other. Because I agree with many of her thoughts about writing, I’ve been sharing them for quite a while. This is the last post. It’s time to move on to other thoughts about creativity.
If we’ve been creative…
Perhaps we’ve been practicing art. Maybe we have notebooks full of stories and poems, or maybe we have a published book in our hands. Perhaps there are canvasses stacked in our living room that we’ve painted. Friends and family have accepted our photographs, have shown up at open mic to hear us music, have been by for Sunday dinner to sample our latest creation. Awesome! We’ve decided to make art a priority in our life. We’ve practiced, so we’ve become experienced and confident. Maybe we’ve experimented and found other rituals and processes that work for us, and we’ve certainly found others that don’t.
So we may be thinking what Goldberg once did, “Well, when do I get to live my life?…You don’t. Not in the small-minded way. A bigger life happens.” Once we traverse into wild mind, it becomes tempting to go back. The more time we spend there, the bigger our lives become. All those stories and poems, the paintings, the photographs, the music, the food, whatever we’ve created thus far, is still the beginning, maybe the middle, but it’s not the end. Even if we decide to stop making art, it’s not the end. It only ends when we take our last breath.
What an artist needs to create…
Every artist has created alone. I won’t say in isolation, because we’re never isolated. We carry our past with us, even if we’ve developed ways to remain in the present. Oftentimes, being alone when we create is best. I write once a week in the presence of other writers. There’s a different energy there, and I’ve written in the past about that. A fellow writer mentioned that she’d seen a road called ‘Hermit Way’, and was tempted to drive there and live. Goldberg quotes from Second Sex, “In order to be an artist, one must be deeply rooted in the society.” Artists interpret society. The good and the not-so-good parts of it. Our experiences cover nearly every corner. If we weren’t part of society, we couldn’t create art. There would be no need to create anything to share our perspective, our past, our beliefs, our ideas.
For the love, for the money…
Whether we’re able to make a living with our art, or we keep our day job and create on the side, for some of us there is the dream that what we love to do, what we’ve practiced and developed a talent for, might one day be what sustains us in this society. In the meantime, there might be stress about finding an agent, an editor, a gallery owner, a producer to sit and watch while we’re playing at a gig, a restaurant willing to take a chance on us. “Stress is basically a disconnection from the earth, a forgetting of the breath…I felt tension between those responsibilities and wanting to write…Stress is an ignorant state. It believes that everything is an emergency.” Stress takes us from the present because we forget to breathe. When we breathe, we’re able to balance the responsibilities of living in society with a day job and our wanting to create.
Goldberg has much advice for living the writer’s (or any artist’s) life. We venture into wild mind. We practice. We give our art to the world. It’s a part of us, but not all of who we are. Once we begin this journey, it’s difficult to turn back. Occasionally, the rewards are monetary. Most often, we’re rewarded with knowing ourselves, healing ourselves, sharing ourselves. We invite the Muse to dance, and we’re moved by joy.
The invitation to visit my website so that I may share joy with you, is always open: www.myjoyenterprises.com
Have you turned your life over to creativity? How have you been able to balance societal responsibilities with art?
Yes we do need society but I still think Hermit Road sounds mighty nice.
Maybe, but I know I’d get bored with my own company. And I think you’d be happy only for a while, and only with Maggie!