We had a full weekend - kettle bells, carving pumpkins, boat out for the season, fall camp fire party, Christmas play practice, jogging in the freezing cold darkness with dumbbells (yo, Rocky!), and a viewing of “World War Z.”
More about the movie on Wednesday. Today is Monday, let's talk about inspiration. Actually, I'd like to talk about the opposite for a minute. I'm sure you've heard that misery loves company. Oh the truth of it. As a manager I work very hard to stomp out negativity anywhere I find it just because it's so destructive and self-perpetuating. I'm no Pollyanna, but I've seen firsthand the devestation wrought by plummeting morale when griping is allowed to continue unchecked.
I believe that creative people are highly susceptible to the effects of group negativity - whether because they are over sensitive in the first place or they allow their imaginations to run wild with the most diabolical what-ifs. Few things are more fragile than the creative ego.
I read an article in the late 90s about a study that suggested that Police Officers needed to have friends outside of law enforcement. The article pointed to high rates of suicide compared to other fields and suggested that the difficult nature of the work, the adversarial nature of most of the professional contacts, and the constant exposure to the underbelly of our society led to depression and by socializing with others in the same field, the problems were magnified instead of resolved. The piece went further to state that those officers who socialized with people outside of the profession were happier in life, marriage, and were far less likely to commit suicide.
As a creative person, you should also seek out and foster relationships with people who are not creative. I'm not saying don't participate in writing groups, rather that your best friend should be someone who has never seen "Casablanca", thinks books are to hold the door open to let smoke out of the house when dinner catches on fire, and couldn't tell you the difference between Rembrandt and Mozart.
Those sorts of relationships will keep you grounded. Art is decoration for life. It is not life. That's a hard thing to say, but you don't eat art. You don't clothe yourself in art. You don't live in art. Obviously there are specific exceptions by specific performance artists, but please, if you are arguing like that you've already accepted my point – that you don’t sip lemonade on the porch with art when you’re 80 and talk about the good old days.
An artist may be able to commiserate with you in a way that a “non-artist” might not. But you don't need that every day. What you need, when you struggle to “show up every day,” is someone reminding you that you aren’t saving the world. That your life is more than the words or colors you put on the page. You don’t lose perspective then. You always remember why you are doing it.
I write because it's something I love. It's a wonderful feeling when someone else likes what I've created. I hope to someday be commercially successful with my writing. But there's a lot more to my life, and my ego, than the printed page. I received a rejection notice last week. I'm not sure which story it was for - I'll have to look it up. I forgot to mention it to my friends because we had a lot of other things going on and it completely slipped my mind until I sat down to write this morning. It wasn't the most important thing to me. I will do another pass of the story, change some words, maybe even do a whole rewrite. Then I’ll send it out again. Meanwhile, the world will continue to turn.