- joyce carol oates, on 9/12, in a moment of lucidity that has saved me, again and again.
as a creative, you find yourself, time and again, facing what can only be described as despair. because something you have created is systematically destroyed in front of you (most often by people with neither the taste nor the skills to create the work themselves), because you lose your job for reasons beyond your control or for which you have no recourse, because of doubt (the eternal ghost that shadows each of us) … because of the often recurring sense that you are not where you are supposed to be, doing what you love.
after 9/11, joyce carol oates, a national treasure, came out and made a speech about what it was like on the previous day for her. she spoke in such powerful, concise ways about a tragic moment, about the feeling that it was like “watching the moon fall from the sky” … and she finished with the above, simple, beautiful statement.
i share this with you today, because it is the ONLY answer to despair i have ever found worthy of a true creative life. the ONLY answer that can affect change.
it is truly one of the few things in my life that is an answer.
from that morning, i took her advice. and here is what i can share with you.
the simple act of DOING something moves us forward. it has, time and again, lifted me past whatever i am struggling with, pushed me through a fear, or out of a moment of panic, and created a new reality.
in recent years, it has involved picking up a camera, calling on friends, and shooting film. for no client, for no reason, simply to DO. to CREATE. to feed the part of myself that needs those things to be happy … but more importantly to simply breathe without the tightness in my chest that comes with fear. a creative’s greatest enemy.
and as anyone who has practised this simple concept can affirm, action creates a new reality. and therefore opens space beyond things like fear and despair, and places you firmly in a future that you had not anticipated.
and that YOU created.
and perhaps this is the greatest part of her simple advice. because YOU are the instigator of the change, the outcome is far more likely to lead you to places where you are beyond the reach of despair.