Odilia Rivera Santos
Many of us have been tortured souls and have created great art through and from a source rife with pain.
The problem with setting up these connections, of creation and pain, is that the nervous system will eventually tire out.
We wear out our myelin sheaths with the constant banging against our nervous system walls.
Our bodies have a memory, so when we create from pain, it stands to reason that at the start of a writing, painting or filmmaking project, our bodies might go into that depressive state in which negative emotional chemicals begin to flow.
In the slaughter of animals in order for the meat to be Kosher, the animals cannot see other animals slaughtered because fear unleashes toxic chemicals.
Fear and pain cannot be the source of creativity but we can use creativity to climb out of the darkness of suffering.
The first rule of being an artist is to be satisfied with your work; yes, you, all alone without awards or a friend at a major publishing house and maybe three people who care about what you have to say.
If you are suffering, as so many artists I know seem to be, make an attempt to get to the root of suffering and deal with it head on. Perspective is usually the culprit; it's like looking at a photograph because what is beautiful from one angle can be hideous from another.
And sometimes, people don't suffer from depression but have been taught to think like a depressive -- fearful, overanalyzing each experience and full of apprehension.
Keep your day job because everyone needs to eat and a place to sleep and an occasional dinner out in a restaurant with friends. I knew an artist who quit his day job to devote himself full-time to filmmaking and ended up in an apartment with nothing but a mattress on the floor and no food in the fridge. He did less art work because he was so worried about using up all his savings to pay bills and he couldn't sleep. When he called me to complain and whine, I told him to get a job and he hung up on me. But he got a job.
Sometimes, people say they will not have energy to do their art if they have a day job but if you have no food to eat and can't sleep because of mounting bills, you will have even less energy for work.
The best kind of job for an artist is one that helps him/her cultivate a personality trait he/she would like to have.
For example, if you are losing your sense of play and joy and becoming humorless, working with children on art projects would help. When we become closed off to some aspect of life, emotion or segment of the population, our creativity suffers.
Do your art everyday. I have spoken to artists who say they need a new computer to write or a writing workshop, painters need a studio, etc., but that's bullshit. Boethius wrote The Consolation of Philosophy in prison awaiting execution. If you want to do it, you will do it. If you resist doing your art, maybe you are a masochist or not really an artist.
If you are a writer, take pictures. If you are a visual artist, write. If you are a spoken word artist, be quiet and make a sculpture. Variety inspires us.
Learn from others but don't compare yourself to anyone. You can learn a lot from other artists but instead of trying to imitate or compare yourself with them, think about the essence of that individual's creation. I love Nabokov and Kurt Weill and realize that it is their independence of spirit and belief in their work that thrills me. They turned their art into a world, so that moving from one country to another was not fraught with suffering.
Wherever they traveled, they were home.
Home in Art, which is where I live.
Buy my e-book! Latinalogue, Puerto Rican Nonfiction Part I