I was recently reading Joan Didion’s book “Slouching Towards Bethlehem”. The essay entitled “On Self Respect” hit several notes with me, especially her reference to “gifts irrevocably wasted through sloth or cowardice or carlessness”.
As a matter of fact, I had been having a similar conversation with myself. I saw that however much I have painted and written, I had not given myself over to it in a way that it called for. I could see the many, many times that I had been lazy, or afraid, too casual or unfocused and wasteful.
I asked myself: What are you waiting for? When will you begin? Or will you be sad when you are a much older woman that you didn’t do what you could have done when you were far younger?
And so I began – several months ago — to immerse myself in ways I haven’t before by:
1) Making lists of both writing and painting projects and ideas and setting reminders to review weekly.
2) Booking into my calendar blocks of time for creativity.
2) Making a commitment to myself to paint and write on the subjects that “speak” to me even if they don’t appear to be economically rewarding (who knows anyway, right?)
3) Enrolling in a writing class which exposes me to writers I have not experienced and pushes me to produce weekly instead of drowning in procrastination or self-editing criticisms that are the murderers of human creativity.
4) Included a “creative work” section on my daily calendar on which to record painting, writing, preparation, research or daily reading time that focus on my two creative goals.
I have, additionally, given up any silly considerations that the protective mind has for stepping out and being the writer and artist that I am. I am certain that on my deathbed I don’t want to mourn that I left my gifts unfulfilled.