Can Art and Practicality Meet?
Last night while lying in bed – exhausted and fuzzy-headed too long a day that had culminated in a few too many drinks at my sister’s party – I almost started crying.
I lay there listening to an earnest and passionate
lecture pep talk from my daughter Rosie, 20 years old, about why I should be true to my art with my writing.
As many who are reading this know, Rosie’s been hanging out with a bunch of creative performing artist types while working towards her BFA in Acting at Boston University.
I almost cried because of the conviction that shone in her brown eyes, and at the beauty of her naiveté as she extolled on the power of Art.
How I envy that surety about how the world works. Oh, to be 20 again – consumed with passion and positive in your knowledge of Truth.
“If you are just authentic and real with what you write, everyone will want to read it,” she assured me.
“Really, Mom, if person is reading someone’s diary and all about their authentic thoughts on their life, will they be bored?”
“No!” She answered herself.
I didn’t have the heart to tell her, that yes, people certainly could be bored reading someone’s private ramblings – unless they have a personal invested interest in that individual and what they are thinking. After all, I’ve clicked away from dozens of blog posts, and even emails, that go on and on in this manner.
But, her point is well-taken.
“An artist tells the truth that everyone else is afraid to face,” she declared.
She repeated this so many times during the conversation that I was convinced the words had been uttered by some great actor or thinker. But no, we can attribute that quote to Ms. Rosie O’Leary.
For years, my daughter has encouraged me to follow through on writing a memoir. “Those stories about your life are so fascinating!”
Again I didn’t have the heart to explain that her interest is based on her own personal history; I’m talking about the events that indirectly shaped who she is today. Of course she finds them fascinating. But would a total stranger feel the same way? I doubt it. Depends on the writing I guess.
“Everyone loves reading your blog!” she assured me. Now, that brought more of a smile to my face.
But really, is this Art? With a capital “A”? Probably not.
It got me thinking though. And almost crying with regret and longing.
Right now I am on this more business-oriented trajectory with my writing – and there’s only so much time in a day. But I sure didn’t like hearing excuses like, “I need to make some money,” coming out of my mouth.
With great difficulty, I tried to explain to her that I don’t believe I have the qualities of an artist. I’m more of a practical person.
It stings my heart to admit this, but I don’t think I have that brilliant creative genius that burns within the soul of the artist.
Although my imagination ran wild as a child, I told her, something changed as I approached adulthood. I just don’t have that many ideas of what to write about.
(I didn’t even start to go into my longing to create or perform art in other forms than writing, and my frustration at my utter lack of ability and talent in any artistic forum.)
Her response to my whine: “That’s because you don’t believe in yourself!”
You ARE a good writer, she proclaimed.. All artists doubt themselves. That part I know is true. But somehow, most manage to still create.
Again, though, her point is well-taken. All my life I’ve longed to write novels and fiction. Unlike Rosie, I basically gave up after my first few tries when things didn’t flow that smoothly. The ideas weren’t coming, I didn’t get oodles of praise and positive feedback in those first creative writing classes back at UC Santa Cruz. I couldn’t find the self-discipline and focus to sit down and write every day until the ideas did come, and my turns of phrase improved.
Instead, I numbed myself with alcohol and marijuana, immersed my creative energy into social activities (and hours of angst-ridden journal writing wondering what the hell was wrong with me).
At least in those days I journaled nearly every day, but after my mom died, and then Ciel was born I found it hard to keep the journal habit. I’d return and write a few entries and then let months, and later even years go by without any chronicle of my activities much less my feelings or some creative expression.
And those months slipped into years, then decades. Here I am nearly 50 and barely closer to my dream of being a novelist than I was at 20.
I’ve wasted those years, I thought miserably, as Rosie continued to enthuse on the power of connecting with your art. I should have been writing, I should have been teaching, speaking – living up to my potential and talent, following my dream.
I found it ironic that she chose this night for her
creative pep talk. I’d spent a good part of the morning and early afternoon finally narrowing down the idea for a new blog and brainstorming titles and taglines. I was feeling motivated, enthusiastic and excited about learning how to create a web site and getting this blog (Wellness Inspirations? Your Natural Well Being?) online.
But this new project, although it will mine my creative writing talents and abilities, is part of a long-term plan to get an online business off the ground.
Sure, I’ll tell some honest and fun stories to illustrate tips and thoughts on creating inner and outer wellness. But this new blog I am so excited about is probably not the place where I will use my most authentic voice and tell the most painfully honest stories.
I don’t think it could be called Art.
Its purpose is to showcase my writing abilities and my knowledge to potential clients (or at least my ability to translate and explain the knowledge of others.)
So, just as I feel some momentum building on this new project – Rosie is reminding me of the clock ticking away while I continue to shelve the real dream. The creative part of me. The aspiring novelist, fiction-writer, memoir writer.
The fact that I never seem to place that artistic aspiration front and center in my life, tells me that I am not a ‘real’ artist or writer, or whatever.
Because, if I was I’d be doing it.
And that thought made the tears really flow.