I may be a good cook, a lousy housekeeper, a strong artist. I am messy, disorganized except as it pertains to designing, a demon for creative detail, and not real interested in details like polished shoes and floors.
My life is my art, and when it gets dull, so does my work. As an artist, I may poke into what other people think of as dead ends: a 60s psych rock band that I mysteriously fall for, a piece of classical piano that hooks my inner ear, a giant sequined pineapple pin I just like and add to a nice outfit, thereby "ruining it."
As an artist, I may frizz my hair or wear weird clothes. I may spend too much money on a vintage dress that I'll never wear because the pattern lets me paint about Paris in the sixties.
As an artist, I design whether I think it's any good or not. I paint things that other people may hate. I film vignettes just to say, "I was here in this moment. I was happy. It was a Tuesday and it was perfect."
As an artist, my self-respect comes from the work. One design at a time, one sketch at a time, one painting at a time. Two and a half years to finish a painting. Twelve drafts of one design. Four years and counting and still not finished with that sketch. Throughout it all, daily, I show up at the morning pages and I write about my ugly couch, my rotten outfit, my delight in the way the light hit the trees on my evening run.
As an artist, I do not need to be rich but I do need to be richly supported. I cannot allow my emotional and intellectual life to stagnate or the work will show it. My life will show it. My temperament will show it. If I don't create, I get crabby.
As an artist, I can literally die from boredom. I kill myself when I fail to nurture my artist child because I'm acting like somebody else's idea of an adult. The more I nurture my artist child, the more adult I am able to appear. Spoiling my artist means it will let me type a business plan. Ignoring my artist means a grinding depression.
There is a connection between self-nurturing and self-respect. If I allow myself to be bullied and cowed by other people's urges for me to be more normal or more accommodating, I sell myself out. They may like me better, feel more comfortable with my more conventional appearance or behavior, but I will hate what I've become. Hating myself, I may lash out at myself or others. When we are not creating, artists are not always very normal or nice -- to ourselves or to others.
Creativity is oxygen for our souls. Cutting off our creativity makes us savage. We react like we are being choked, we will react as if fighting for our lives --- we are.
To be an artist is to recognize the particular. To appreciate the peculiar. To allow a sense of play in your relationship to accepted standards. To ask the question, "Why?" To be an artist is to risk admitting that much of what is money, property, and prestige strikes you as just a little silly.
To be an artist is to acknowledge the astonishing. It is to allow the wrong piece in a room if we like it. It is to hang on to a weird coat that makes us happy. It is to not keep trying to be something we aren't.
If you are happier writing than not writing, painting than not painting, singing than not singing, acting than not acting, directing than not directing, for God's sake (and I mean that literally) let yourself do it.
To kill your dreams because they are irresponsible is to be irresponsible to yourself. Credibility lies with you and God -- not with a vote of your friends and family.
The Creator made us creative. Our creativity is our gift from God. Our use of it is our gift to God. Accepting this bargain is the beginning of true acceptance.
(excerpt from The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron, adapted and edited to fit my life and perspective)