Why do we write? Why do we paint? Why do we compose music? Probably for as many different reasons as there are writers, painters, sculptors, composers, etc. But yet, there are many of us who create for similar reasons. I first started writing consistently every day shortly after I retired from a 30-year executive position, running our design/manufacturing business with 164 employees. As the days of not-going-to-my office multiplied, I dissolved into a depression. I missed the work. I missed the employees. I felt useless. I wrote to ease the pain of not knowing what to do with the rest of my life. What did I want? What would I enjoy? What would give me fulfillment? I considered everything from joining the Peace Corps to starting another company, to returning to painting, to returning to piano playing. My imagination would move from possibilities to unrealistic dreams. Writing every morning at 4:30am in spiral notebooks as fast as my stream-of-conscious and arthritic hand would allow. Relief but not fulfillment.
Purchasing a used piano and rescuing my music books from the mice in the attic occupied my mania for a while. This added to my confused state since the Mozart, Chopin and Schumann pieces I used to play now looked a lot like Chinese markings on the pages. And my hands were stiff. I called and scheduled piano lessons. My poor husband had to listen to the Hannon scale exercises along with an occasional recognizable “tune” as he called them.
A trip to the art supply store for acrylic paints and paper, setting up an easel in a space with a window at the top of the stairs was another attempt. But this time, I figured out I needed to find a creative outlet that gave me a more personal gratification and at some point could make a difference in someone’s life.
Attending a writers’ workshop/retreat in New Hampshire was my next exploration. It was there that Joan Hunter, after reading my scribbles and hearing my plight said, “You need to find out who you are. You have a good writerly style. Why don’t you start writing about your childhood and past life? And then, maybe get into advocacy writing.”
Slowly, the discovery that I am a storyteller imbued my mind and heart and hasn’t let go. Tools were needed. I applied, was accepted and received my MFA in Creative Writing at Spalding University, Louisville.
So it began.
Thinking about the answer to my question has triggered a yearning to find out why others create or how they began. These next blogs will be based on my interviews with contemporary creators in various artistic fields.
“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same
time.” -Thomas Merton
“The object isn’t to make art, it’s to be in that wonderful state
which makes art inevitable.” –Robert Henri