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. There is no other way work of artistic worth can be done. And the occasional success, to the striver, is worth everything.
The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time. – MARY OLIVER, blue pastures
It’s taken me more than half of my life to finally be able to say that I am working on a novel. It has also taken quite an army of support to help me own up to this calling. Seems ridiculous, I know– but it is also one of the cornerstones of what Squam gatherings are about: feeling less alone, finding courage, blasting obstacles out of the way, the simple acknowledgement that engaging in the process of creativity– without any promise of product or success– is meaningful and of value.
One of the obstacles has been carving out the time to write. Like most creatives, it takes a lot to settle into the flow —god help the poor soul who unwittingly yanks me out of it — and somehow I can always let something else take priority. Or, at least– that’s what I used to do.
Since November I have delineated three mornings a week when I write without fail, but when the external demands on my life start to gear up as they are doing right now with a bunch of travel and our beloved June gathering on the horizon, it becomes a battle to keep my commitment to writing as the number one priority in my life.
And that’s what I wanted to share with you here. I know that many of us are seeking to keep our creative pursuits at the center of our lives. I know from the emails and letters that you send to me that as we wend our way through the thicket of laundry, groceries, carpooling, work, kids, pets, family– LIFE– it would be so simple to let the creative pursuit slip to the bottom of our purse, buried under house keys, candy wrappers and grit.
It takes an actual fight. It takes a sense of commitment and loyalty to push back and hold the ground. It is not always easy– but it is ALWAYS worth it. So, if you’ve got barbarians scaling the walls and need an extra bucket of boiling tar to pitch on their lice-infested heads — give me a holler.
I’ve got barrels of the stuff, ever at the ready — yours for the taking.
“All endeavor calls for the ability to tramp the last mile, shape the last plan, endure the last hour’s toil.
The fight to the finish spirit is the one characteristic we must possess if we are to face the future as finishers.”
– Henry David Thoreau