Friday, August 27, 2010

Creativity and "Crazymakers"

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....

♥ Carolee


A mermaid in the attic said...

Yes, yes, and ...YEEES! I know exactly what you mean, it always seems to be a constant battle between being an artist, and being everything else that I'm expected (and expect myself) to be. Too often being creative gets put on the bottom of the 'to do' list, even though I know it's what I need to stay sane.

sassypackrat said...

Excellent reminder! And I did need to be reminded of this.

Gail H. Ragsdale said...

Oh YES!!!!! Thank you for writing this! The crazymaker in my home is my husband, a kind, well-meaning, disruptive soul.

I don't comment much but I visit frequently, love your work and WILL win one someday...

The House That Goth Built said...

It's hard to type while laughing.....boy does this sound familiar!! And to be such a ruffled-feather smoother, that I don't even realize when my energy is drained!!! Sometimes I need a good swift kick!! Even if it is just in the form of a blog post! Thanks CarolLee! For both your enchanting work & words of wisdom!!

Cassie said...

perfect timing with this post for me....Those people literally SUCK all the good vibes away!

Jeanne said...

What a wonderful post! :0)

I learned early on that there were people in the world like that. Even FAMILY members - much to my surprise and horror! And setting boundaries was even harder with those family members.

But I count myself very lucky because my Hubby is most supportive and understanding. :0)

Kate Sterling said...

I think I'm my own crazymaker, lol.

Illustrated Ink said...

You hit the nail on the head! I recently had to detangle myself from a "crazymaker" that owned a gallery. Claimed to be there to support artists, but instead created horrible, destructive messes that drained all the creative love right out of you. So nice to be assured by your words, and in good company with the other artists that have commented here. :)

RoBiN said...

Oh has taken me days to READ this article on your blog, simply for what it is all about....CrazyMakers.

Thanks Carolee.... ;)

debbiek said...

Oh my gosh, you have put into words what I stomp my feet and try and explain to my hubby about all the! Thank you, thank you, thank you. I'm going to READ this to him. Making art keeps one's sanity from this crazy world we live in. Now, if only others would understand it.