the language of the birds…

you look more like a magpie these days...
you look more like a magpie these days...
Writers write every day. Artists create all the time. That’s what I’m told – a real writer is compelled toward setting words in print, come foul or fair. In worst of times, the true writer will come up with just one word rather than fail to create.
Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way , insists that many self proclaimed ‘writers’ are in love with the idea of being a writer but when it comes down to it are without the drive or the stamina to do the work. Others possess talent but internal voices of critics past and present snuff out any sparks of motivation or inspiration.
There’s also a category of women, in Cameron’s Way, who produce baby after baby rather than show up at the page and answer an artistic call. Fruit of the womb as a substitute for real world success is the gist of that bit of pop-psychology.You can imagine that someone such as myself, who has indeed produced baby after baby and not much else (by some standards), who may well be one of those who are in love with the poetic image of the solitary but brilliant artist and who could just as well qualify for the other, would be suitably shamed and chastised by all of it and duly set a course of remedial action.
Actually, no.There comes a moment in a person’s life, hopefully for all of us, when the realisation dawns that enough means enough, that yes there are difficulties, possibly some cellulite (I jest!) or a lack of funds, but these needn’t be a reason not to accept oneself and one’s life completely as is. Exactly as is. Not the potential of oneself, not the idea of how one could be, and not the way one would be if all the problems were overcome. Yes, just like this.

There also comes a moment of reckoning (and I’m having one of these) – a kind of straighten-up-and-fly-right type message from the divine. It hasn’t escaped me that after over a year of drawing birds and working with words I’ve moved into a house where the previous occupant went to great measures to repel all things feathered. The now fully laden fruit trees in the back garden are enclosed in a gigantic metal cage – which at first glance looks like an aviary but is designed to keep birds out. Every now and then a cheeky little bowerbird will squeeze under the gate and help himself to some windfalls while I watch with admiration – with that much determination the little guy is welcome to anything he can get. Even with the limits set in a most obvious way, life thrives.

Work with what you’ve got, the signs all say, no remedial action required other than what it takes to move from stone-still to action – openness (and maybe a small measure of that little bird’s cheekiness).

So what if one isn’t built for creating epics – one can always come up with an haiku or two. If there’s only a small gap in a busy day (perhaps otherwise filled with nappy changing, runs to school and the market and the like) there’s still opportunity enough to look around and notice things – to see life in one’s own way – get under the fence and be inspired.

And if all else fails, take a look at what has been created so far.

In honour of Mercury’s retrograde phase, I’m doing a review of my work – including some of my favourite bird drawings.

unfinished business
unfinished business
balsamic sparrow
balsamic sparrow
solar heron
solar heron
heron now
heron now

5 thoughts on “the language of the birds…

  1. dan, dan, dan,

    Thanks for bringing back the birds. Would have liked to see ‘groom’ again.

    So Julia Cameron only refers to one kind of art, one kind of creativity in her book?

    Haven’t read it. But isn’t having baby after baby an ‘epic’ of itself. The epic unfolds with protecting and guiding those babies until they can fend for themselves. Some artists work on projects that require years of work, but surely the long haul of nurturing children is the most unappreciated art there is.

    Don’t know if we’ve discussed it, but in the early stages of my latest project I thought I may have the opportunity to start a family and was amazed at how I had no hesitation to chuck the art. Pity it didn’t pan out, and it was consoling that I had my art (almost wrote ‘heart’) to return to. An owl told me that. But I would have given it away, at least for a while, and knew that returning to it, had I chose to, I would have been enriched by motherhood.

    You’ve been sneaking through the fence for years mother of five, getting to many varieties of hidden fruit that few ever know the taste of. The sublime flavours.

    Thanks for sharing it.

  2. I still struggle with the reality that I am enough, good, fine imperfectly perfect right now. On some core deep level I believe it, yet early training of a different set of expectations of myself nibble at me from time to time.

    I’ve found I am able to find the gift in most moments…I am increasingly trusting my swarm method of problem solving. As in lots of ideas, lots of angles, lots of possiblities, lots of entry points, regardless of internal or external barriers…I think I access my inner bower bird pretty well.

    Uber looking at child raising as unappreciated art really rings home for me. I see something different in my now adult children every time I see them. I’m currently trying to create some balance between the very strong ties I feel with them, and present ability to see them a lot, with my desire to just launch off thousands of miles away. I don’t think I live through my children, but I really enjoy them, more than most people I come across.

    So swarming with ideas of if it has to be either or, or some blend, or, well something I haven’t thought of yet. I’m not anxious about any of this, just concious that it’s part of what I desire right now while the opportunity for this level of closeness still exists. It is helping me create different solutions, and focussing more strongly on what really drives me, along side my love of my children.

    Quite honestly having children to me is not a barrier to creativity, I’ve had to be more creative to my approach to life as a mother than I ever did pre-children days. Also I don’t constrict creativity to just the written word, or any acknowledgement as a writer…I am however a conduit and communicator on all sorts of levels, powered by my own creativity, and acceptance of others.

  3. !…thanks for the reminder of that bower bird! I’m inspired Cate!!

    yes I think we all waver on the ‘good enough’ issue, even the strongest of us – its wonderful that you’re seeing many points of view too… you really are flying 🙂

  4. Danae I’m glad you started posting back here again. If you hadn’t I wouldn’t of had the chance re-read your post, and to revisit my stance re:creativity 9 months down the track…and be able to muse (pun sort of intended) on how my acceptance has helped give me a different level of courage to explore other creative possibilities.

    Beyond the baby suppressing creativity balderdash I’ve found with time I find myself even more irritated by J Cameron’s certainty of how a writer ‘should’ conduct themselves…this so called compulsion to write. On one level I can understand that people express themselves through their own value set, it’s just that she has such a strong voice that I wonder how many people read her and think, I’m doing it wrong because I don’t feel it the way she approves of?

    Months later I do see this post as a good turning point…it’s easier to look for what you believe when you come across something that annoys strongly…that would be Ms Cameron, not you…lol..thanks for creating thought provoking posts Danae.

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