Thursday, July 18, 2013

From writing to painting: my story


My whole life I have been seeking the perfect expression of creativity. I have always felt the need to make and create things. And for most of my life I wanted to be a writer. That's what I thought was my creative calling.

I wrote stories in my spare time at primary school. I continued this habit in high school. And at university I took all the creative writing classes available. I kept a personal journal and carried a pocketbook everywhere in which I'd jot down story ideas and snippets of dialogue. After a 'gap year' travelling I came back to study 'Professional Writing'.

And that extinguished the passion.

I tried to write a novel. It sucked. I wrote short stories. They sucked.

But I did find that what I liked was writing non-fiction. I had some stuff published. It felt good. But there was still some essential part of me that I couldn't access or express through writing alone.

Now I still love to write. I blog for the sheer enjoyment of punching out words when I get ideas and the satisfying immediacy of hitting the 'publish' button. Every now and again when I get an idea that's a little bigger, I'll write it up, send it out to publications, and see if it takes. I won't ever 'give up' writing.

But all this time it turns out what was missing was art.

I feel a bigger sense of 'wholeness' now I've found it. I didn't start painting until I was 31 (just after my first daughter was born) and I can't even begin to explain how grateful I am that I stumbled upon it.

When I'm painting I feel like I'm executing ideas and expressing feelings that would be impossible to put into words.

And drawing is often a more pleasurable way of recording my life than writing. Back when I kept a written journal there was a lot of complaining in it. When I draw my life I am looking for beauty and singularity. I'm looking to celebrate everyday life and express gratitude in the act of recording it.

And maybe all this will change. Maybe the balance will tip. Perhaps oneday I will focus more on writing again, or the emphasis will shift to drawing instead of painting. Or maybe there will be something else I haven't even thought of yet; some other way to say the things I want to say.

All I know is that if you keep trying to find your 'thing', keep trying to make stuff that can only come uniquely from you; if you keep chipping away at your creative expression until you find the core, you'll get closer and closer to what it is to live a meaningful, whole, creative life.

That's what I reckon, anyway.