Sunday, August 28, 2005

Lord Byron Syndrome

"If I don't write to empty my mind, I go mad."
~ Lord Byron

I saw (rather heard) an ad on the tv this morning as I was preparing breakfast for my sleepy family. I hadn't seen the likes of it since the print ads commonly found in the teen magazines that floated around my junior high school.

"Take this simple art test. Draw 'Tippy', 'Cubby' or 'The Pirate' and send it to us. Our panel of experts will then determine if you possess the talent and desire needed to become a serious art student."

Below would be printed cute but generic looking cartoon head shots of a turtle, bear, and pirate, and a convenient large square for you to reproduce one of these characters. (If you call the number given on the tv commercial, they will be happy to send you the test at no obligation).

Um ~ (tapping gently and politely at the windowpane of the house of syntax) ~ excuse me ~ but this whole concept that this fine institution uses has always bugged me. Being able to reproduce someone else's drawing does not make you an artist. It makes you a Xerox machine.

Sometimes I have considered possessing the creative spirit to be more of an affliction than a gift. As Lord Byron so simply and perfectly described, it's as if you cannot function properly in everyday life if an outlet is not found and utilized for whatever creation needing to be let out. From the time I could hold a crayon till deep into my 20's, it was all that I cared to be. Purging the artistic energy forever generating inside was all I had constructive time for, as it was indeed an undeniable calling. The same went for writing. A daily outlet of poetry, prose, short story, or even simple rambling entries in a journal were as necessary as food and sleep for me then.

I married in wild abandon when I was 24. He was a lightning bolt in my life and we fed off of each other from the moment we met. It was passionate and addictive, this relationship we shared. Unfortunately, as with all addictions the give and take became so inbalanced that this succubus of a partner squeezed nearly all the life and energy out of me before I finally got away from him. Along with my self respect, self esteem and joy of living, he stripped the very muses out of me. Their songs within my molecules were silenced; I didn't create anything in any form for a long, long time.

Years passed and life and love renewed itself. In time my creative calling returned to me, but I had become involved in other pastimes and had forgotten how to make the time for them. I did pick up the hobby of scrapbooking, and became lost in the task of designing the canvas in that my precious photographed memories would now reside (complete with journaling, therefore also feeding my writing bug). I spent way too much time on each layout, but things must be just so and no rest will be found until it is - anyone who suffers the affliction will understand that.

Our giant handful of a puppy came, followed a year later by our dear son. Needless to say, time to myself became slim and none. My scrapbooking supplies sat untouched for months on end, just as the paints and pencils and inks of my first few decades. I have since progressively slipped into a nonidentifiable funk. Earlier this year I began to work my scrapbooking back in, but time spent there was still rare. There are many helpful hint books about creating speedy layouts, but I'm not interested in churning out generic pages where any number of photos could be dropped in and work all the same. My method of scrapbooking is exhaustive, each becoming unique as the photos they enhance, and if I only have 20 or 30 minutes to do it I'd just as soon not start.

I began a set of journals for my son when he was a few months old, chronicling his life and current events along the way from a first hand perspective, as well as recording dreams and hopes we have for him. I will give them to him someday. I don't know when - perhaps when he graduates high school, or college, when he gets married or has his own first child. I will know when the time is right. It's a fun and enriching project. But it doesn't exactly curb the pangs in my soul.

The other day, after reading about a blogger friend's experience in which he got up in the middle of the night to paint because the urge was keeping him awake, it finally clicked in my head. Lord Byron Syndrome, I have dubbed it. When you respond to the call of creativity, you will find peace from the purge. If you do not heed, the calls of sirens become the shrieks of banshees and given enough time unrequited will drive you mad. I need to learn how to not only listen, but respond. It is my condition, it is in the fiber of my being.

Since starting this blog I have been feeling much better. My foul mood has been diluted a bit and I'm feeling that some pressure has been relieved from whatever the abscess is inside of me. I'm relearning how to channel, or at least trying. Any creative soul will tell you though, it's not a calling that can be ignored.


Bougie Black Boy said...

Wow. Brilliantly said... errr written.

I'm not sure what the correlation is--but for some reason when I'm in a relationship, I don't write or paint. THAT is what turns me off from relationship. I can't give up my art that easily. Something I've known since birth, just like you.

(I remember those commercials you spoke about too, by the way!)

Anonymous said...

Very well done.

sidetrack said...

You nailed it absolutely. When I was in college I used to wonder why the most "famous" writers and artists tended to be men, pages and pages of them in the textbooks. Only once and awhile I'd see a woman's name. It's as if you can't breathe once you're a wife/mother who wants to write or create art. You get so lost trying to pay bills or scrub the bathtub or care for little ones. It's like you lose some of your soul. Blogging helps, but it's only a bandage, at least for me.

Lori said...

I remember those drawing ads...

The blogging does help the artistic outlet...if writing is the need. It's very difficult to balance everything, though... If I write, the house gets away from me. But seems like there's always "housework"... Right now, for me, the kids are first. If I get to writing too much and they start commenting on it, I pull back a bit. We are close and soon enough they will be gone and I'll have a lot of time to put into just what I want to do.

My sister is a free lance artist - so talented. Her husband farms and she is at home during the day. With three children, she's a great wife and mom. I don't know where she gets the energy...but I'm jealous!

The Way of the Mamacita said...

Ohhh, I relate to you.
Thanks for leaving a commment on my blog: The Way of the Mamacita, as I just started this month and need some encouragement to create. I really connected to your entry. I'll be back. Thanks.

Emit-Flesti said...

Believe me, I know your meaning. But if you wonder beyond, you probably start a new path and the only way to find that secret road might be walking on it. You're in the right direction my sweet friend.

Scone said...

My friend Maryanne likens it to the need to vomit. Much better to get it out.

Anonymous said...

I love it ! Very creative ! That's actually really cool Thanks.