Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Write On Wednesday-Serving Two (or Three, or Four...) Masters

For most of my life, I've been obsessed by two things - words and music. Of course, I've had obsessions about other things along the way - a purple sting ray bike with a white banana seat and sparkle streamers, Robert Redford as Hubbell Garnder in the movie The Way We Were, chilled Chardonnay from the Monterey Valley - but those things all pale in comparison to the two constants - words and music.

Ever since I was a tiny child, I have craved one or the other of these things. I can clearly recall the first time I set foot in a library and was surrounded by the amazing sight and smell of all those books - millions of words all to be devoured at my pleasure. My greatest desire was to grab them all up in my tiny three year old arms and carry them home with me. It was just about the same time that I fell in love with a toy piano my parents gave me for Christmas - fell so much in love that I tried to turn everything into a pretend keyboard, even the handle of the grocery basket, or the little white keys of the radio in my dad's big Buick.

Throughout my life, my heart has been torn between these two loves. Do I write? Do I play? Why did it never occur to me that I could do both? Is there something in society's expectations that subliminally deters me from trying to practice more than one art at a time? Does the world allow only just so much artistic expression in the life of one person?

I might have thought that was true, at least until recently. For much of my life, it seemed as if I had to partition my artistic interests - if I was mostly playing music, because of a job, or the circumstances of my life, then I stopped writing. And I have always been drawn to the piano in the way I thought that a "true artist" should be, often feeling a physical need to play, almost like a smoker needs a cigarette or an alcoholic needs a vodka tonic. But recently, I've begun to feel the same draw to this computer screen - this other keyboard that brings my words alive and sends them out into the world, like the keys on my Kimball grand piano send music into the air.

This shift in perspective has largely come from my experience and acquaintances in the blogging community. Getting to know so many of you who are marvelous writers and poets, as well as photographers, painters, collage makers, quilters, has hushed that nagging little voice that was saying "you can't do both things well, so you have to pick one or the other." I'm beginning to believe that not only is it possible to serve more than one artistic master, it's even preferable. The more I write, the more sensitive I become to the world around me, the nuances of life that I can express in words, in poetry, and also in music. And I'm developing interests in totally different artistic pursuits, which I've been having some fun dabbling with over the past couple of weeks.

So, what about you? Do you think an artist can execl in more than one creative area? How many creative masters are you serving?



Anonymous bella said...

After reading this, I think your artistic loves feed each other. Words and music almost go together, hand in hand.
I haven't really found my "thing" yet. I have some idea as to what it is I'm passionate about, but I've not yet explored the territory. My great loves are reading and traveling. But those two things don't really take any work, do they? LOL.
My little girl is much like you. She amazes me. She teaches herself songs on her keyboard. She so good that I'll be signing her up for lessons soon. And, she draws, so beautifully - with each picture, there is a story. Now, she's been a big inspiration for me.

Blogger Star said...

My bike was blue with a black, silver-trimmed banana seat. I rode it everywhere. And Robert Redford, yeah.

Have you ever tried writing music? With you musical talents and winning way with words I'd think it would be a true love match. Maybe you could provide something for Josh Groban's next CD?

I've seen lots of evidence her in blogland that artists can, indeed, excel in more than one creative area. I'm just not sure that I can (or even one!), but it's fun trying.

Now that some of your music commitments have concluded it will allow you to enjoy playing the piano and writing (and whatever else you keep dangling in front of us that you're dabbling in--can't wait to find out what it is). Tap in to the potential within you and let it out to play.

Anonymous Paris Parfait said...

Well as long as you can fit in writing and music or writing and art or any combination whatsoever in the time you have available- why not? I've just bought a lot of collage and decoupage supplies and ordered some related books (it's been so long, I've forgotten how to do even basic techniques) and am planning to rekindle the artistic side. I'd like to be playing the piano too, but the apartment simply can't accommodate one. Lovely post, Becca!

Blogger Tammy said...

I have learned from people like you that if you're creative all forms of creativity are possible. When I get my body back I'm going to give my newly found creativity a whirl. I learn acoustic guitar, I would knit, quilt, scrapbook and buy a better camera. Creativity bonkers!!!!!!!!!!!!

Blogger susanlavonne said...

It's funny how my approach/inclinations are so different...I am the quintessential "Jacqueline of all trades, master of none." I love to try it all but often lack the focus to concentrate on one skill. My guess is that the answer lies somewhere in the middle :-)However...

Dabble on, Dude!
(and I'll try to maintain a little focus :-)

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, I do believe that an artist can excel in more than one creative area.
I am a musician for a living, it's what feeds and clothes me...I am an artist...paint is like a food for me...and I am a writer, the adventures and tender moments that I create with words are part of me and my dreams...
So I guess I have three...

Becca, I loved this writing you did. The image of you as a tiny child wanting to carry away all those books in your little arms...and when you fell in love with the toy piano.
Beautiful Becca...

I always find it so interesting how things that we experienced as children molded us into what we are today...

Blogger susanlavonne said...

p.s. I forgot to mention how the whole piece was so well written and I especially love the keyboard analogy...keep those words coming!

Blogger Becca said...

Bella - reading and traveling, huh? How about travel writing, or maybe a TV show on the travel channel? And boy, does your daughter sound like a treasure - enjoy her!

Star - no, I've never tried writing music, but it's kind of a natural combination, isn't it? Thanks for the idea :)

Tara - have fun reconnecting with collage - can't wait to see the finished product

Tammy - you have some great plans, there. Go hog wild with creativity!

Susan - on the contrary, I believe you are definitely a master with the lens and with the pens, and probably with lots of other things I know nothing about!

Sombra - you have one of the richest artistic lives and natures of anyone I've ever met - a real inspiration.

Blogger deirdre said...

I remember falling in love with books and wanting to write stories of my own. The interest in art is new for me, something I've discovered only in the last year. I find writing and art feed each other and that different arts evoke a distinct response from my body and soul. So, yes, I think it's not only possible to serve two artistic masters, but also important to have an outlet for those times when words fail.

Blogger Niall Young said...

To me it's not a matter of 'serving' any master..but a purely deep instinct to question things around you, to want to consider the why's and wherefore's in life..as an artist I do this 'thinking' often on paper. But as has been said..being an artist is not about producing great works of art..it is the 'alchemical' nature of the questing to interpret.Some people mistake the work for the artist. E.M.Forster once wrote:.."we often mistake the sign post for the destination".To be one who is on this journey ..this quest..is to be an artist. It's just sometimes, to get where you want to go you take a walk, or you take the car, train, bus, plane..Draw, paint, sculpt, write, sing,dance!

Anonymous Barbara said...

Hi Becca -
Wonderful website! I'll try to figure out how to link WritingTime to it. Thanks for all your comments.


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