Artists are a funny bunch of people. We feel compelled from some deep, mysterious place inside us to always be creating something. Sometimes it's just spewing words into our journals or sketching in our notebooks during meetings, not really for the purpose of thoughtfully creating art but just to expel all the random ideas jamming up the works in our brains. Other times, we sit down with the intent to actually make something, which requires a lot more pain and suffering. It's not easy to put words on pages, or to create a garment from fabric, or to press all the right keys on the piano to make a singable song. It takes struggle, and it's often hard before it's fun - am I right, guys?
I don't know what drives us to create. Perhaps it's somewhat egotistical and narcissistic of us - we have so much to say and make because we're feeling so much, and we don't know any other way to cope but to put it all out there and show it to the world. But maybe it's also that we love to consume art, and discuss it and breathe it in. And if we're constantly consuming, it stands to reason we complete the cycle by also putting art out into the world. It's a give and take. Every time I read a great book, it makes me want to run straight to the computer and work on my novel. When I see a friend perform brilliantly on stage, it makes me want to bust out my guitar and sing. Whatever the answer is, I know that for me, making art isn't a choice, it's a reflex, like breathing.
Lately, I've been so inspired by so many of my talented friends and family. I'm lucky enough to know some really fantastic artists and makers, and their successes make me want to do more and push myself a little bit further. For example, I have so many friends working in theater. Carrie, a friend from college who I had the great honor of directing in a little musical called Pippin, is now performing in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? on Broadway. I got to see her on stage last month and I was so impressed and humbled and proud. My friend Omar has been working in theater for more than a decade and turning out incredible work with Pregones Theater, a production company in the Bronx creating and performing original works rooted in Puerto Rican and Latino culture. He also does amazing work as a teaching artist, working primarily with kids. Carrie and Omar inspire me.
My friends Dave, Shannon, Andrea and Shaminda have all found success in theater as well, working behind the scenes in lighting and scenic design and stage management. They've lit the stages for the Ohio Light Opera and run shows for famous performers like Lea Salonga. My friend Natalie is a singer, and she's been performing in regional theater and cabaret shows for years. They inspire me.
Many of my friends, like me, are writers. A group of my friends in New York have been creating sketch comedy productions for more than ten years, pushing the envelope and garnering deserved acclaim with their original show, Spurn, as well as tons of other side projects. My friend Jen and her crew of self-proclaimed gaming nerds launched and created a fantastic site, SaveGame Online, all in their spare time and so far as a labor of (unpaid) love. Kimberly, in addition to running her own creative marketing company, recently published her first novel, Loved.
Pretty cool, right? I'm not even scratching the surface. There's no way I'm going to be able to mention all my amazingly talented friends in just one post - all the knitters and stitchers and singers and musicians and artists. I am so lucky to know too many to mention them all in one post. But I feel their influence in my life every single day, every time I sit down at my computer to write, every time I turn on the television or open a magazine, I am constantly reminded that they are just a few degrees of separation away from whatever I'm seeing or reading or enjoying. They inspire me. They push me to be better and to chase my own hair-brained dreams, no matter how long it takes.