— The artist’s task is not complicated.
The artist’s task is but this: To CREATE.
But not to create casually.
Nor to create only when it’s easy or when it’s convenient.
Much less when it’s convenient to everyone else.
The artist’s task is nothing less than this: a steadfast and dedicated commitment to the creative process.
And if there’s creative work to be done . . . by god, the rest of the world will just have to wait.
The poet Mary Oliver (b. 1935) expresses this so well in one of her essays (from her collection titled Upstream), where she writes:
“It is 6:00 A.M., and I am working. I am absentminded, reckless, heedless of social obligations. Which is as it must be. … My responsibility is not to the ordinary, or the timely … 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.”
And so I ask you: Are you giving to your Muse the power and the time she needs if she is to say something worth saying?
Are you putting in the time required to master your craft and continually push your creative work further, and to hell with everything (and everyone) else?
Might sound harsh. But I can tell you this: A year from now you won’t care a whit whether or not the laundry got done on time today or whether the dishes had to sit till the next morning. You won’t care whether or not you spent an hour watching a dumb TV show or tossed away an hour on Facebook.
Those things just don’t matter.
What you will care about however — if you put aside those distractions, if you dismiss whatever trivialities the rest of the world wants to pile on to rob you of your day — if instead you sit down, you put in the hours, and you CREATE something . . . what you will care about is the art you’ve brought into this world . . . and those you have touched with your art along the way . . .
Even more important still: You’ll care about how the journey has shaped you. You’ll care about who you have BECOME.
Make that your obsession.
Focus on the work.
Focus on what the work is making of you.
The world can wait. Believe me. For if you are an artist, and if you are creating with everything you’ve got, then yours is a higher calling. So go live it the way you need to live it.
And go create art like mad.