The Pain of Creativity v. the Joy of Creativity


Being artists, and I consider writers to to artists, means you create. You take the air and you add thoughts and mix briskly. What you get is a book, a blog, a painting, a song, a dance performance, or a photo shoot. Years ago, someone told me that I was different. Now, I know I am different and it bothers me not. My children, it bothers sometimes. I guess, to be honest, I wondered if it was an insult or a compliment. It was an insult,that time. Artistic people are often loved or hated. Part of it is the ability to look at life and to see it differently.

Being a photographer I learned that I and others could look at the same moment in life and we don’t see it the same. Actually, a friend and I used to go to New York City every October. We would be going to the museums, our favorite bookstore, The Strand. Our photos were all good photos, but we saw differently. When I go to the beach with my oldest daughter and her family, the camera seldom leaves my hands. (When it does I am reading.) But I look at her photos and at mine and wonder if we were at the same place.

So my point is that when we are criticized by ” the experts” or reading public, our friends or other people when they see or read our work, it may be that  they simply don’t see things like we do. When I took art classes, there we all were with our easels scattered around a still life setting or a model, painting what we saw. Just the difference between our physical locations made the painting slightly different. The light is different depending on your location. One sees the pile of books with light striking them, another sees a vase of flowers prominently.

Non creative people have their talents too. I never could have changed a tire if my life depended on it.  :~)  When I was young, teachers did not think it was something a young lady needed to know. After that, I just knew I was not at all mechanical and it was better than the times I have tried. I know what I can do and what I can’t do so it was part of accepting who I am authentically.

Writers have always had to deal with rejection letters and people writing to tell you they didn’t like what you wrote. May Sarton was aften chastized by critics and it effected May deeply. “Sarton Selected.” which I highly recommend, has copies of some of the letters she did like. She liked them enough that she published them. May Sarton wrote journals, fiction and poetry and had a perspective on life that I loved. She is also a feminist. I have written about her previously in a blog.

May Sarton received this literary comment from a reader.

“Please forgive the intrusion of a stranger, but I have long admired the work you have done, especially The Land of Silence…[I feel] dismay at the condescension of its review in the New Yorker last week. I have been following you from afar for many years…..You seem in a sort of sense a legatee of Virginia Woolf…

My special gratitude to you for the sonnets of the Land of Silence and for the “self” poem. Now I Become Myself, which describes a rather specially feminine circumstance. Women, somewhat more than men, I think, have to wear other people’s faces, because of the variety of demands which life makes of them, perhaps.”

—Excerpted from a letter written to May Sarton from Mrs. Myleen Newton Morrison, as quoted in Sarton Selected. 

I have a lot of friends who are musicians. Most write their own lyrics and melodies. I have watched them in the throes of the muse. Writing on napkins, jotting notes down on whatever shred of paper they can find. Now, of course as happens in life, we are all living all over the country. They feel “the critics” from a lack of tips. They can really suffer from inconsiderate comments.

So the road through a creative life has its share of ups and downs. Sometimes we are appreciated and sometimes we are not. It is important not to lose touch with your muse, whatever it is for you. Some people have a lover or a spouse and some have a place. Others have a thing or a ritual they use to connect. Whatever your muse is…it inspires you to dream bigger, reach farther and embrace more than you ever have before.

” As you go along your road in life, you will, if you aim high enough, also meet resistance…but no matter how tough the opposition may seem, Have courage still–and persevere.”

—Madeleine Albright

“We must remember that one determined person can make a significant difference, and that a small group of determined people can change the course of history.”

—Sonia Johnson

“Who we are never changes, who we think we are does. ”     —Mary S. Almanac

Monochrome Still-life Acrylics on canvas by Barbara Mattio. Copyrighted 2008

Monochrome Still-life
Acrylics on canvas by Barbara Mattio. Copyrighted 2008

The Atlantic Ocean at twilight. Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2009

The Atlantic Ocean at twilight. Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2009