For ultra-serious artists (such as myself), stopping your artistry can feel no different from death itself. The desire to create is always there, the need is there, you have people who want to hear/see what you create, and you may even have the time. But sometimes it just…can’t happen.
This year I was eaten alive, non-stop. The tumultuous politics of this season, the inability to land a job or a living wage, troubling family dynamics, and depression all contributed to a year when plain survival was harder than ever. While in this struggle, I have made strides. I am a much better business-person, I practiced the keyboard every day, I bought a piano (!!!), and can now play Bach with the nuance and style his music demands. These are all to be celebrated when the prevailing feeling every day was, “is death better than this?”. Instead, I felt like a failure.
I was a failure because I hadn’t written a single piece of music so far in 2018. Because I was fed stories of famous composers, Vaughan Williams, Shostakovich, etc., who had created music in the midst of war, and I can’t even write music when I’m OK.
And I am not the only one feeling this. A shocking number of friends and colleagues have taken significant breaks from their artistry. Some friends haven’t touched their pianos in months, and others have stopped music-ing indefinitely. Too many are faced with the painful experience of surviving at this moment that makes it impossible to create beauty. Perhaps, there’s a realization, that this world doesn’t deserve beauty.
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P.S. While I am learning to be more ok with my own artistic break, I still intend on finishing my commissions, which both have plenty of time left 🙂