I first read the term "crazymaker" several years ago in "The Artist's Way", Julia Cameron's wonderful book about discovering and recovering creativity. Among many other wonderful pieces of advice, Ms. Cameron stresses the need we artists have to surround ourselves with people who support and nurture our creativity, and distance ourselves from those who are instead a drain on our creativity. She writes of the latter:
"Crazymakers are those personalities that create storm centers. They are often charismatic, frequently charming, highly inventive and powerfully persuasive. And for the creative person in their vicinity, they are enormously destructive."
We've all known people like this. Very often they're a friend or even a family member, and in the age of social networking, we meet them online too. The friend, family member or even spouse who proclaims their support, while all the while creating situations that take us away from creating. The relative who considers what we do a hobby, or "not a real job", and brings constant interruptions. The high maintenance online acquaintances who perceive slights and create drama in groups.
Those of us who feel the need to be peacemakers and smooth ruffled feathers, those who dislike confrontation, are particularly susceptible. It's easy to get sucked into the drama if for no other reason than to calm the waters.
But the thing to remember is all this drama doesn't produce art.
We need to remember we have an appointment with our brushes and palette - or our clay, our fiber, our typewriter...We need to remember that the act of creating is what feeds the soul.
I think this is particularly challenging for those of us who are wives and Mothers, because we're conditioned to be the peacemakers. We're conditioned to put others' needs before our own, to put our own projects, dreams and aspirations on the back burner. But are we really doing our families a favor in doing this, or are we creating resentment instead of art?
I remember an incident when my daughter was young, and she invited a friend home after school. I was immersed in painting, and apparently this child addressed me and I didn't hear. So she raised her voice, quite annoyed that I hadn't stopped what I was doing to speak with her.
"Oh, I forgot to tell you, my Mom can't hear when she paints" said my daughter, very matter-of-factly.
Courtney had learned to adapt. Her Mother was an artist and this is the way things were when Mom painted. It didn't hurt her, it didn't put her in therapy - in fact, it arguably illustrated the need to feed that part of the soul, and she's to this day a highly creative young woman herself.
Yet I still have to remind myself to be alert to the crazymakers. To surround myself instead with people and situations which encourage creativity, to spend my time with paintbrush in hand, to tune out the craziness (and sometimes even the day-to-day obligations) and allow others to spin out of control if that is their desire.
It's not selfishness, it's self preservation.
There's ART to be made, and a joyful - and all too short - life to be lived. ;)
Off to the studio now....