OK. Business out of the way. Obviously, I’ve been thinking a great deal about that aspect of my life and it is essential, but it paints a fairly two dimensional picture of who I am or why I do what I do.
Serious artists and writers are compelled to work. Drawn into a mine shaft on a cart without a steering mechanism, we have no choice but to follow the path. It’s scary down there, plummeting the depths of experience and emotion without a map or a guide. Nevertheless, we keep going. To stop is to die.
I struggle a lot with how to make sense of everything I do. Pulled in multiple directions by forces over which I have little control, I have never followed just one career path, art media, or thought process. My friend, Nancy Reyner, recently described her personas as clothes in a closet. Each morning, she wakes, meditates, and chooses the appropriate persona for her day. Will she be a painter, writer, teacher, or mother? Perhaps she’ll slip into some comfortable jeans and be a slacker. The point is, she gets to choose. We all do.
I loved her analogy. It was so clear. Many of my friends write, teach, make art, and own businesses simultaneously. Creativity, once ignited, is unstoppable. It pulls us in multiple directions and allows us to fully explore all parts of ourselves. As we do, we get to see ourselves naked. Knowing that self, and loving it, is the joy of being a creative. It is also the goal. Once we are whole, what we have to share is powerful, regardless of our method of expression.
Our curse? We don’t fit neatly into any one box. That makes us difficult on our significant others and a marketing nightmare. Unfortunately for all, when I’m working, I’m not making product. I’m breathing, damn it, and I’m not selling an object. I’m inviting the world to share a piece of my soul with each creation.
So is it possible to package a person? And should we bother? All the talk about losing fans if we switch from one genre to another without using a pen name is disconcerting. Why would I want anyone to know only one aspect of who I am? I tried that in a marriage once. It didn’t work.
I think the soul of the artist emerges regardless of subject matter or media. At the end of the day, or its beginning, we are a whole person naked in the dark. The personas we adopt, the subjects we choose, and the media with which we express ourselves are irrelevant. What matters is that we express, explore, and share who we are and what we discover.
What do you think? I welcome your thoughts.