6.5 Multi-talented? Ask the Creative Catalyst.


Saraswati Saraswati

Saraswati: Hindu Goddess of music, knowledge, and the arts.

Notice her four arms–typical of artist-writers-musicians-performers. The doubled images tell the story. Can we be in two places at the same time? Maybe. See the conversation below between “Swamped” and the Creative Catalyst. –Janet Riehl

__________________

Dear Creative Catalyst: It’s only the first week of the school year, and I’m feeling swamped already! Is dancing and leading workshops in addition to teaching a dodge from my main work as a poet? Is it a secret wish for failure?

Swamped in Savannah

Dear Swamped: That depends on your motivation and how you manage time and energy. Does fear not being enough lead you toward distraction? More practically, are you over-booked?

Swamped: I think I’m in search of something, but I don’t know what.

Creative Catalyst: Wholeness, as I see it. But there is only so much of you to go around. Your quest leads to fragmentation rather than wholeness.

Swamped: I want to feel that expressing myself as a poet is enough. I want to feel worthy without having to add another layer—say, becoming a nature mystic before I can be a worthy poet.

Creative Catalyst: It’s a bitch to be an artist in our linear world! Be careful not to internalize judgments from family and friends. Sure, it’s okay to be the poet you are without another layer. You don’t have to prove yourself to feel worthy.

Layering springs from a creative impulse and is a quest for richness. Simpler is easier. But now all the richness, wholeness, and layering is a part of you and your poetry. Do not renounce an iota of the richness yet continue to focus. Do what you can without going crazy.

Swamped: How can I know if I’m sidestepping commitment?

Creative Catalyst: Ask yourself if some fear leads toward your seeking distraction.

Swamped: If were truly committed to my writing, wouldn’t I do something like go on a month-long writer’s retreat and dive deep into myself?

Creative Catalyst: Not necessarily. You don’t have to prove yourself by undertaking extraordinary steps. Staying home and doing your work is enough.

However, I love the self-guided writing retreat idea! You could even dance during your retreat! Does dancing, your secondary interest, feed your primary writing interest? If so, you’re on a path that will serve your work.

Swamped: Oh, yes. For me, the rhythms and music of dance embody the rhythms and musicality of language. I know that dance helps reduce my stress. It makes me feel alive and healthy. Plus, it’s fun to be in community with women. Even when we speak different languages, dance unites us.

Creative Catalyst: It’s rejuvenating— your personal Fountain of Youth.

Swamped: How can I tell when studying with a teacher will help me, and when it’s hiding from what I know? This is so not people-speak 🙂

Creative Catalyst: Take stock of what you know now. Do you need to know more in order to go further? Claim your authority, and give it a go. Perhaps later you’ll benefit from taking another class.

Swamped: My new resolution is to focus on my poetry collection in the coming months Instead of spinning off in so many different directions.

Creative Catalyst: Focusing your prodigious talent and energies makes perfect sense. Go easy on yourself, and let your work flow.

_______________

Pose questions about practical creativity; give ideas for future cycle themes; and join in the dialog. See the Creative Catalyst archive at http://bit.ly/9z1BQv.  Learn more about our audio book “Sightlines: A Family Love Story in Poetry and Music”at http://bit.ly/aZVd1e. Become a Riehlife Villager http://www.riehlife.com.

10 responses to “6.5 Multi-talented? Ask the Creative Catalyst.

  1. I like the creative catalyst format. Thank you Janet Riehl for the heads up.
    There is a reason that procrastination is the thief of time; but procrastination and passion do not co-exist in the present moment.
    No matter what your desire or aim, it’s essential to step into the pool of awareness where you once again, or for the first time, realize that understanding is the goal.

  2. This is my first exposure to the creative catalyst format. Janet, you touch a lot of nerves exposed in the creative process. We all suffer from one or more of these maladies, or so they seem, until we realize, through you, that we’re not alone. I especially like your thought: “You don’t have to prove yourself to feel worthy.” I find those to be words of comfort.

  3. Eden and Gerry,
    Thanks for your comments. The advice column format was something Stephanie Farrow (my collaborator) and I adopted for fun. Most posts are in a straight format.
    Gerry,
    Yes, we all bring everything human into our life as artists. That worthy thing trips me up all the time. Don’t you find that in drafting it’s especially pesky?
    Eden,
    Your insight that when we are procrastinating, we’re not in touch with our passion explains why artists suffer when they’re not involved in their work.
    Create well!
    Janet Riehl

  4. Hello All:
    Let me add a postscript to my earlier comment. So, what then is understanding? As the great sage from India observed: “Understanding is the booby prize.”
    What does this mean? Like a Zen koan, you must grasp the sage’s meaning intuitively; be aware and one day you will.

  5. Eden,
    I would recommend your fine book “An Artist Empowered: Define and Establish Your Value as an Artist-Now” to any artist earnestly following a creative path. http://amzn.to/934wlM
    You have so much to offer.
    Janet Riehl

  6. These beautiful insights prove to be comforting to my poetic soul. It is quite clear that most receptive and deeply conscious individuals suffer from the conflict of worth. Why? Perhaps it is an inborn fear of truly living. I am not sure. But, this is splendid as well as inspirational.

  7. Eric Maisel has several good books that encourage creative people to overcome their fear and do it anyway.
    Janet Riehl

  8. Janet this is brilliant! You know I love all your pieces on the creative catalyst, but this is my favourite. You have managed to succinctly state so many truths in a simple, straightforward manner such that it is easy not to forget…or ignore..them.
    What hits home for me most especially –“there is only so much of you to go around. Your quest leads to fragmentation rather than wholeness.”
    Also–“Ask yourself if some fear leads toward your seeking distraction.”
    Aaahhh the truth hurts!!!
    Maybe what I really need right now is to devise a ‘self-guided writing retreat’……mmmm, maybe you might cover this topic in one of your upcoming ‘creative catalyst’ columns??

    • Edith,

      Oohhhh, Girl! It’s so fun to have a fan. Thanks for the encouragement. That’s the best reward for doing this work–to know it’s useful.

      I like the idea of talking more about a self-guided writing retreat. Let me think about it.

      Stephanie and I plan to discuss “Harvesting” journals, notes, snippets in our next cycle. If you have questions or ideas about this topic, bring it on.

      Janet

  9. Edith,

    Oohhhh, Girl! It’s so fun to have a fan. Thanks for the encouragement. That’s the best reward for doing this work–to know it’s useful.

    I like the idea of talking more about a self-guided writing retreat. Let me think about it.

    Stephanie and I plan to discuss “Harvesting” journals, notes, snippets in our next cycle. If you have questions or ideas about this topic, bring it on.

    Janet

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