“Some editors are failed writers, but so are most writers.”  — T.S. Eliot


All of us have seen friends who are artists put aside their art and not return.

An old jazzer I knew, who scored big bands in the ’50s, heard from a friend who’d stopped playing as a musician, and asked him “What went wrong?”  Then immediately, laughingly — “What went right?!?”

There are always good reasons.  Family responsibilities.  Job responsibilities.  Responsibilities.

Not always, but frequently, I hear notes of sadness in the voice and expressions of a person describing why they left their art practice behind.  Sometimes the notes are faint, sometimes distant, like ideas that have lain fallow so long they are grown over with ivy, but too often the feeling of sorrow, of something precious lost, is there. 

I don’t care how many of the people around you might think pursuing art of any form — music? acting? performance? sketching? — is a waste of time.   OR foolish.  OR “unrealistic.”  Or any of the other thousand words we use to imprison ourselves in limitations we don’t really, deep down, believe in.

This isn’t about what other people believe.  

There’s a kind of ruthlessness which the artist must possess — and in fact must nurture.  You have to be able to withstand the passing storms of outside opinion.  What does someone else’s opinion have to do with following your desire to create???  Yes, of course, it requires a kind of bravery to pick up the brush again, pick up the guitar, pick up the script.  Would it be as hard, would you be so unwilling, if you thought of it as a matter of life or death for a unique and precious part of your being?  

Isn’t it?

“To create one’s own world, in any of the arts, takes courage.” — Georgia O’Keeffe

Find that courage.  And hold on to it.  As if it were a matter of life and death.