Soon the fireflies will be out.
The bamboo is shooting across my backyard. The kudzu stirs.
Wild honeysuckle appear along the roadsides. I catch hints as I drive back roads with my truck windows down.
My sons, daughters and I have filled two school books with four-leaf clover. And we’ve made necklaces out of the white, pea flowers that dot those clover patches like little pom-poms.
As I’ve sat periodically in the cracks of the week to think on screen, I’ve written at least six or seven leads, but nothing really came of it. It’s okay, though. I love knocking on keys to see if any stories come out to play. It’s like we did with our neighborhood friends, when we were kids.
As I type this, I am sitting in my daughters’ darkened room, as they squirm and kick and toss and talk and twist in a valiant battle against Mr. Sandman.
Our creative life is a relationship. Much like our everyday life. We live in relationship with ourselves, our families and friends, our neighbors, our natural and climatic surroundings, our work and co-workers, our faith, our interests. Just like we live in relationship with ideas, characters, songs and scenes.
And, like those around us, the relationship we have with our creative life takes on many forms. I’m surprised by how many writers and artists treat their creative life as a silo they enter, rather than a relationship they have.
What kind of relationship do you have with your creative work? How do you treat it?
Is it a marriage? A friendship? An affair?
Or is it like a co-worker—serious business?
Maybe it’s more like an old friend you catch up with every once in a while, but never as often as you intend or wish.
For some, it can be like a parent-child relationship when the dishes need to be done or the garbage needs to make it to the street.
I may be wrong, but when I imagine myself reflecting on my life near its end, my mind won’t go to the books I wrote, or poems I published, or lectures I gave, or money I made, or awards I earned, or anything like that. I will remember the relationships I had.
And not just the relationships I had with the people in my life. But the relationships I had with mountains, creeks, animals, songs, stories, poems, seasons, the moon and the memories.
Everything in life is a relationship. Your creative life is a relationship too. An important one. One that offers meaning and connection to yourself and others.
From May 2012 to July 2013, I wrote a weekly series of intimate essays for writers and artists seeking a deeper connection with their identity and place as modern creatives. I called this series Root Notes. This was an essay in that series. It was originally published on May 12, 2013.