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

A Day For Contemplation

Love in the World

Love in the World

Roaming in Thought

“Roaming in thought over the Universe, I saw the little that is Good steadily hastening towards immorality, And the vast all that is call’d Evil I saw hastening to merge itself and become lost and dead.”                                                                                                          –Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

The Snow Light

In the snow light,
In the swan light,
In the white-on-white light
of a winter storm,
my delight and your delight
Kept each other warm.

The next afternoon
and love gone so soon!-
I met myself alone
In a windless calm,
Silenced at the bone
After the white storm.

What more was to come?
Out from the cocoon,
in the silent room,
pouring our white light,
amaryllis bloom
opened in the night.

The cool petals shone
like some winter moon
or shadow of a swan,
echoing the light
after you were gone
Of our white-on-white.”
—May Sarton

One Life

“A woman walking in a walker on the cliffs
recalls great bodily joys, much pain.
Nothing in her is apt to say
my heart aches, though she read those words
in a battered college text, this morning
as the sun rose. It is all too
mixed, the heart too mixed with laughter
raucousing the grief, her life
too mixed, she shakes her heavy
silvered hair at all the fixed
declarations of baggage. I should be dead and I’m alive
don’t ask me how; I don’t eat like I should
and still I like how the drop of vodka
hits the tongue. I was a worker and a mother,
that means a worker and a worker
but for one you don’t pay union dues
or get a pension; for the other
the men ran the union, we ran the home.
It was terrible and good, we had more than half a life,
I had four lives at least, one out of marriage
when I kicked up all the dust I could
before I know what I was doing.
One life with the girls on the line during the war,
yes, painting our legs and jitterbugging together
one life with a husband, not the worst,
one with your children, none of it just what you’d thought.
We took what we could.
But even this is a life, I’m reading a lot of books
I never read, my daughter brought home from school,
plays where you can almost hear them talking,
Romantic poets, Isaac Babel. A lot of lives
worse and better than what I knew. I’m walking again.
My heart doesn’t ache; sometimes though it rages.”                       —–Adrienne Rich


“if you will go forward to find Us, We will come forward to receive you.
Give Us all you have, and We shall give you all We possess.
In man We have designed Our image; in woman We have finished it.
In man We have shown Our nature benign; in woman We have expressed Our art divine.
Make God a reality, and God will make you the truth.
Give all you have, and take all that is given to you.”                                      —excerpted from The Complete Sayings; Hazrat Inayat Khan

The receipe is to add positive energy to the negativity you find.

The recipe is to add positive energy to the negativity you find.

I am love

I am love

Be free, be lovePhoto by Barbara Mattio

Be free, be love
Photo by Barbara Mattio