Saturday, July 17, 2021

Love Letters to My Life #37: Creative Turmoil


by Joyce Wycoff
(We know the day we were born, but most of us do not know the day we will die. This love letter to my life is written on the day I've designated as my Death Day: the 17th of every month, and which reminds me to be grateful for my incredible life.)   
Turmoil: a state of great disturbance, confusion, or uncertainty and perceived as a negative word and experience. Searching my database of about 5,000 quotes didn’t turn up a single entry. That seems odd since into every life a bit of turmoil always falls; why aren’t the philosophers waxing poetic about how to deal with it?
Right now, I’m in a state of turmoil, a boil-and-bubble cauldron of uncertainty and confusion, stirred by a new course from David DuChemin. I’ve been learning from David for several years now and have come to respect his art and his approach to the creative life. (His podcast A Beautiful Anarchy is one of my favorite 15-minute creativity boosters.) 
Recently, David patiently guided me through a push-back to one of his messages. I was absolutely sure he was off-base, at least for me and my situation. He asked a few questions and made some gentle suggestions, which I rejected until I woke up one morning with an aha that what he was saying was exactly what I needed to hear.
I’m probably in a pretty big basket of artists/creatives who love making stuff but don’t quite know what to do with it … just enjoy the making of it (which can overload garages, attics and, in my case, hard drives) or sell it, generally considered a daunting, unlovely process tainted by money.
I’ve been on a wobble board for years about this issue … long periods of “I’m just doing this for myself,” with short bursts of, “I want to share my work with the world and connect through my writing and art.” 
Art came to me later in life and as much as I love it, I’m not sure how it benefits anyone other than myself. Take the whole idea of art as an investment off the table and also remove the idea of art as a match-the-couch decorative element, and what’s left?
This was the crux of the dispute with David. He advocates understanding how what you do serves your audience … or how to focus on an audience that will be served by what you do. And that was my issue. I make images that have a minuscule possibility of return on investment and probably won’t match many couches, and my audience already has walls full of art or family photos. While I agreed with him in theory, I couldn’t find a way to make what he was saying fit my question of how what I do serves anyone other than myself.
So, I put the whole idea away, thinking I’m just going to do my writing and art for myself. I don’t have an audience that would be served by what I do, so I’ll just be happy with things the way the are. Wink. Wink. Nudge. Nudge.
Life has a way of nudging closed doors open. First came an invitation to join a local gallery which wobbled me back to thinking about sales. Next, a new program with David showed up inviting me to learn how to find my audience. Since things often come in threes, the third was when a series of events found me back in the practice of gratitude with a new format of the Gratitude Miracles Journal. The combined threesome found me opening my credit card to the process of trying to figure this audience thing out.
Garden Art?
David’s course stretches over three months with 14 modules. I’m only on Module 4 and already in complete turmoil. I’m supposed to be finding my “true audience;” instead I’m being flooded with ideas for new products. I think these two vectors will come together at some point, but for right now, the turmoil continues.
One moment of clarity ... I'm beginning to understand that
I don't want to make "art,"
I want to make a difference. 

I want to be a booster 
of creativity and gratitude.
As I scoured the internet, I found this helpful quote from Debbie Ford:
"Emotional turmoil can be a powerful catalyst
to reconnect us with our divine nature.
It propels us into a journey of self-discovery
and urges us to learn how
to love and accept our entire being."
That sounds like a pretty good thing. I'm grateful for this turmoil and the opportunity it's giving me to rethink everything about what I want to do with my writing and art.

One idea: I love combining words and images and, since I print on aluminum, the prints are hardy and basically weather proof (although I wouldn't suggest having them in hurricane or tornado zones unless firmly attached.) 

What if images such as this one left the house and became garden art and could easily be installed on fences, decks, garages, and so on?

PS: Celebration -- Recently, I've been prompted by the Universe to do more celebrating. So, it struck me yesterday that if I knew that tomorrow would be the day that I would die, I should celebrate. There's probably a better way, but this wasn't a bad last minute choice.



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