Miss me? I fell into the abyss. Hate it when that happens. I started out creating something amazing! But somehow I ended up in . . . . commerce
An artist’s life can be marked in distinct periods of BC and AD (Before Commerce and After Development). In the middle is purgatory.
This is much the same life cycle of an entrepreneur as they create a product, company, or app and then engage in the process of attempting to fund it and bring it to the marketplace.
Creation and commerce couldn’t be more different, and yet, one can deceptively and suddenly become the other. It starts with a crazy dream, becomes real and tangible, and then can become an existential crisis.
At the heart of me, I love to create beauty and move people in some way. That’s what drives me in whatever setting I’m in—contributing something that wasn’t there before. It’s where I find the happiest, fullest, truest version of myself. It’s where I am surest of who I am and that God is here with me. This is because at this phase my ego has disappeared, and I am merged with the thing I am creating. The soul is 100% naked and beautiful.
But, the biggest trick of the ego is to make us think it isn’t there, and that’s when things get capsized.
For example, I just finished my Dream Creation. All of us have one of those in us, I think. I couldn’t leave this earth without doing a collection of the best of my poetry, and the creation of this baby was sheer ecstasy, like nothing else. This, to me is the essence of creating– total freedom to take it wherever the spirit leads me, all while linked to my Creator.
But, after I finished creating this gorgeous, vibrant, personally transformative baby, I entered the production zone. I stopped feeling and doing, and started trying and forcing solutions, timeframes, and deadlines. I necessarily engaged others’ help to assist me into turning it into a beautiful package for others to consume and hopefully enjoy. This is exactly when ego took over and I found myself on the sadistic hamster wheel of others’ choices, others’ deadlines, others’ priorities and schedules—all completely necessary. But the second it became a product, God’s timing went out the window, as I tried to manage and exceed other’s expectations and even my own. When ego entered, so did the idea of competition, which I’d never even considered, and then fear. What if I’m not enough? What if my baby is really ugly, and I just don’t know it?
Coincidentally, I felt progressively tired, overwhelmed, irritated, angry and hopeless, equally in turns. Because commerce is completely outwardly driven, it’s about everyone else and whether they like you or are even paying attention. Paradoxically, my ego had stepped in trying to manage everything and excel, but the rest of me shrunk.
What happened? I had let the spirit ebb out of the work– the very essence and soul of it, in my hurry to for it to be born.
I now realize process is a metaphor that should stay on the assembly line. Creativity isn’t a process used in a factory: it’s a birth.
To be mired in process and mechanics forces the ego to take over and manage, like it’s an assembly line. Ego will always be tied to fear, and fear will always block God. But when I focus on fear I’m focusing on limitations: anathema to the creative spirit, which wants to run like a herd of mustangs.
The answer, at least for me, is to approach the commerce side of the equation with the same creative spirit of adventure I approach the creative phase, and to only allow limitations when it applies to time spent in commerce.
I can’t control who sees my art, who likes it, who buys it. I can reach people; if I do the best I can, while respecting that this new commercial landscape is the Wild, Wild West. I have to do my part, but not all of it is up to me. My creator is bigger than the Wild, Wild West, and he can change the topography as needed.
Maybe that’s why I miss Prince so much. He could deliver a production but he was never a product; he wouldn’t stand for it. His identity was his art, take him or leave him. He never submitted to the process.
I can’t ignore commerce, or it will ignore me. But maybe I can try to keep it in its rightful place, and limit the amount of time I spend in and on it so it doesn’t creep into my creative space, like the blob, crowding out creation itself, and the joy that goes with it.