The artist's life

The art of crafting: Jane Eamon reflects on how living a creative life is about more than writing songs

 

Sometimes it’s hard to be creative. Sometimes it’s even harder to stay focused and on point. Sometimes the muse is just not listening. And sometimes I feel like giving up. But…..

It’s normal. It’s very normal. The self-doubts, the depressions, the “why am I doing this anyway,” the criticisms, the lack of confidence and follow-through are just symptoms of the creative process. And no one said I had to limit my creative output to one thing.

I was a musician. No, correct that. I am a musician. But I’m not playing music right now. I’m knitting. Or I’m taking photos. Or I’m searching out new recipes and trying them out. I miss the music. I miss being able to write a new song to lift my spirits and playing it fresh and new for an audience. There is something so visceral about that connection. But with COVID and the way of our world right now, it’s become a memory. Sure I could give it up, but I would still miss it.

So I started thinking about what it means to be a creative. I have never been one of those types with a single minded passion for one thing. I love a lot of things. I suppose if I examine them all, I will find a common thread like organizing, or learning a new skill. But it’s the thrill of the chase that I love.

Jane models one of the sweaters she knitted.

And it got me thinking about my own creative life. I came to music early on – not even a teenager – to use as a form of therapy. I wrote songs to find my authentic voice. Then I stopped. I became a needlepoint artist. I searched out difficult patterns and attempted them – not always successfully. But when I did succeed, I often gave them away when they were complete. I learned how to knit and crochet. I would make blankets and shawls. And I give them away. I taught myself how to cook. I made bread and baked, even doughnuts. I taught myself how to take pictures. I took courses. Then I started writing poetry and a couple of books. I did short stories and on-line blogs. Then I came back to music. I taught myself guitar licks, and I took courses in song-writing, and I absorbed as much as I could.

Life happened and everything stopped. It was more than enough to just exist day to day. I had to find a way to exist in this world with my authentic self. If I couldn’t play music, I’d have to find another outlet for the creative side of me. I had to stop being a couch potato and tap into the reserves I knew I had. I took pictures. One a day for a year. Then I participated in a yearly poetry challenge, 30 poems in 30 days. I built monthly menus around new recipes. I stopped caring about what the creative thing was; it was enough that everything I did was in some way creative.

I think that’s the secret. We are not meant to be without it. Creativity is a special force in our lives. It lifts us above the mundane of every day. It elevates everything we do to a different plane. And it fills us. We can’t live a life without some form of creativity. And that creative spark does not have to be what you’ve always done. Music is not the only thing. Neither is painting or sculpture or photography. A beautiful garden is creative. A well-made meal is creative. The way you make your bed is creative. Or the style of your hair.

I think we need to turn off the media hype and acknowledge that creativity is in every one of us. We all have that spark. Just look at young children so alive in the world. Everything has possibilities and everything is special. Remember what it felt like to make a sword out of a stick? Or a castle out of cardboard? We may have lost that in our desire for adulthood, but it is still there. Everything is creative.

I use this technique every day. I take a minute to acknowledge that I am creative and whatever I choose to do is beautiful and worthy of my attention. It gets me through the bad days. When my guitar looks at me with longing, I just say – one day soon. All is not lost. We will be together again someday.

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