For the past ten years, I have dedicated myself to my art in a way I never had before in my life. I show up in my studio five days a week doing my creative work, in whatever form it may take.
My whole life I’ve heard of the idea of the Muse. Mostly as an abstract idea about a mystical woman who brings creativity to a few lucky artists.
But I’ve never thought of myself having a Muse.
No until last week when I read a piece on Brain Pickings called, “The Third Self: Mary Oliver on Time, Concentration, the Artist’s Task, and the Central Commitment of the Creative Life“, about Mary Oliver’s dedication to being a poet.
“It is six A.M., and I am working. I am absentminded, reckless, heedless of social obligations, etc. It is as it must be. The tire goes flat, the tooth falls out, there will be a hundred meals without mustard. The poem gets written. I have wrestled with the angel and I am stained with light and I have no shame. Neither do I have guilt. My responsibility is not to the ordinary, or the timely. It does not include mustard, or teeth. It does not extend to the lost button, or the beans in the pot. My loyalty is to the inner vision, whenever and howsoever it may arrive. If I have a meeting with you at three o’clock, rejoice if I am late. Rejoice even more if I do not arrive at all.”
Jon and I talk about the importance of giving our best hours of the day to our creative work. Of how not to let the chores and everyday living creep into our creative time.
I’ve been as dedicated to the business of selling my art as much as creating it. But sometimes, the two fight for space in my mind and in my day. They require different kinds of thinking and it isn’t easy to switch from one to the other.
If I start my day doing the business end of my work, getting into my creative head takes some time and space. And there are only so many hours in a day.
Somehow, when I read Mary Oliver’s words on being dedicated to her creativity, it awakened something in me that I hadn’t felt before.
As if I finally understood the idea of the Muse.
Not as a mystical woman whispering in my ear, but as a force outside of myself, that is serious and demanding of my attention and time. If I don’t turn myself over to my creativity, to my Muse, if I don’t give her the time and commitment that she deserves, she will abandon me.
This commitment comes in the doing, in the creating. By being serious and dedicated. By putting it above the mundane tasks of everyday living.
I have to create the space for my Muse to come to me. I have to hold and protect that space. So when my Muse arrives, I’m there, ready and open to whatever she brings me.
There is nothing abstract about this idea to me anymore. It’s alive and concrete, it occupies an interior and physical space.
In some ways I’ve made the commitment, but I feel like I’m meeting my Muse for the first time. Now that I’ve named her, I can truly embrace her and commit, even deeper, to my creativity.