The Call to Make and Compulsion to Create

IMG_0167 When I was little, more often than not I had at least one crayon in hand, and beside me there was a box of crayons and a piece of paper, a stack of paper, and maybe a coloring book. In the chaos of my home, putting color and making shapes on paper was comforting. My home was hardly only chaotic though, it was also a fun place, a good food place, a loving place, and my desire to make came out of those experiences as well.

Now, a thousand years later, my compulsion to create is even greater than it was then. Once I met my husband and gained a new level of security in my daily life, the impulse to make increased and so did a faith, a trust, a confidence in my creative work. It’s remained pretty damn steady since then. If there is a greater joy, I’ve not encountered it, but nor am I looking because this joy, the joy of saying what’s unknown but calling to be said, to make what is unmade but calling to be given form, is enormous.

My new book, Step into Nature is, more or less, on its own now, out in the world doing its work. When I hear from people that they’re enjoying it I feel something like a flower opening inside me.

Once, long before my recent book deal, when frustrated about a lack of reception for my writing and crying on a friend’s shoulder, he asked why the writing itself wasn’t fulfillment enough. But it’s not. That’s just the first part. If some of the words or some of the images don’t reach some ready ears and eyes, it’s like shouting down a dank and empty tunnel. What the walls give back isn’t sufficient.

IMG_3713Recently, my paper and fabric collages were shown at the lovely Big Sur gallery, Studio One. Quite a few pieces sold! But hardly all of it. Oh, the time I spent cutting and stitching and gluing to get ready. (Alas, enough to injure my arm.) Now the unsold work is back in my small house with no walls on which to display it, and besides, I didn’t make it just for me, I made it for other people and their walls.

There’s the rub, and this isn’t about ego, it’s about relationship, it’s about authentic commerce, it’s about having a valued place in the world. Would I make art and write if nobody wanted any of it, not my blog readers or my book and article readers, not those who purchased the collages from Studio One? You betcha. I would, indeed, because of the unfiltered, abundant joy that comes from the wonder of conceiving and the furrowed brow of mulling and the difficulty of composing and the fear of being unable to and the thrill of being able to and the delight of making what which never was before, the touching into deepest places, the making of connections, and all the rest that making art is about for me.

Yet I come back to that question of who are we makers and what’s the totality of the why that we make, that we are driven to make. My conclusion today is no conclusion at all, just another question thrown into the air like so much confetti.