Adrienne Crezo, in her blog post “On Being Submissive,” beautifully articulates writers’ (and artists’) dilemma: we possess a need to create through our art, second only to our physical needs to breath, eat, and sleep, yet — human that we are — feel inadequate to the task. Our minds imagine great works of sculpture, words of light, transformative creations that will shake the world. (Even when our art is journaling, we hope that we will leave something worthy of future generations.) But our fingers create something much smaller and, we think, less significant.
I empathize with much of what Adrienne has to say, having the same sorts of battles myself — except for one thing, and that is the concept of submitting to this drive. I am picking at the word itself, not the sentiment she communicates in her post. To me, the word submission is a negatively loaded term of compliance, yielding to some outside force or authority, acceptance, and resignation. It is a giving up and setting aside of self rather than a building up and expression of self, which is what I think art is ultimately.
I believe that what Ms. Crezo wants to convey is summed up best in her words: “My intention is to let the compulsion to write drive me, to hand my hands over to the Muse …” Rather than a process of submitting, I think the creative process is about learning to tune in to the Greater Self (after all, aren’t we each our own Muse?), to listen to our intuition, receive, and then use whatever talents and skills we have managed to accumulate to bring what we have heard into the world.
The creative process, whether writing or some other form of art, can be likened to giving birth: a seed of thought meets the divine breath of life and takes root; it must then be nurtured, fed, developed, and born. All of which takes awareness, focus, effort, and skill — at least if you want the child to be healthy and strong. Art is the same.
At times we may feel great and, at others, less than the lowest, and still possess that need to create. We can call it compulsion. We can say that we’re submitting to some invisible force. We can pretend it is not ourselves we are speaking about. But a rose is a rose; we have within us that [art, work, book, craft, word, thought, dream] which desires to come into the world and be made reality.
I encourage all of us writers and artists to change the way we think about ourselves and our art. Instead of submitting to it as though we are under some kind of threat of violence, let us honor it, love it, nurture it, and give it a place in our space and time. There are so many positive reasons to heed our creative call — and I think that by thinking of it as a call rather than an obligation, we will treat ourselves and our work with more compassion.
Now, I think I’ll put my soapbox away and get to work …