Friday, August 12, 2011

on living a creative life

“We can never be born enough. We are human beings; for whom birth is a supremely welcome mystery, the mystery of growing: the mystery which happens only and whenever we are faithful to ourselves." - e. e. cummings

Liz Gilbert, who has done a lot of very inspired writing, observes in this TED talk (one of my favorite things on the whole internet) that considering an artist responsible for the quality of her own work, rather than leaving that responsibility to the gods/muses/daemons, may be a grave mistake.

This is a tremendously comforting concept for me, and I imagine it's the same for every creative person (and by that I mean every person). It means that my job is not to create. My job is to remain inspired, so that my heart will be open to the creative force.

For me, remaining inspired requires being honest, growing personally, feeling passionately, and having adventures. It generally requires a deep and vibrant experience of music, poetry, sensuality, and/or love. It absolutely requires continually becoming the person I want to be, at risk of facing fears, disappointing people, and breaking with convention.

By choosing to live a creative life, I have made a commitment to my muse: she is always welcome in my house. That means that I will remain open to inspiration at all times, regardless of what I might have to sacrifice to do so. So far, I have only had to sacrifice money, security, and routine, all of which I am lucky enough to have no taste for.

I believe in muses of the arts, but also of science, childcare, computer programming, baking, dog training, and human relationships. It's my strong suspicion that everyone has a muse, and that everyone - somewhere deep inside themselves - knows what they have to do to invite her into their lives. What have you done for your muse lately?


  1. Wow, this is a great talk!! I feel exactly like that when I write poetry. I also definitely think about creating ceramic art as a magical process. I am the least spiritual person ever, but secretly I pray to the ceramic gods, to my daemon, to anything when I am making ceramics. It seems magical, even as I understand and control the process more finely, it is increasingly mystical. I wrote about this just the other day! I like creative processes that are unpredictable (like ceramic glazing) because it reminds me that art is just something that flows through me, seizes me, that I really don't have that much control over.

  2. Ah Carsie, I could not have read this at a better time!


  3. Thank you Carsie for sharing this! I'm obsessed with the link, as well as your commentary. It just makes so much sense!

  4. That's a great video Carsie. Thanks. I've even found the idea helpful for dealing with performance-anxiety; "I've played this song a 1000 times so if I miss a note or I break a string, oh well. I'm just happy that sometimes I don't." It certainly puts you in a better frame of mind to enjoy the experience. Better to be amused by the randomness of live performance than to be paralyzed by it.