I led a writing workshop last Saturday. In the conversations and the writing, two life experiences showed up common to everyone.
Early in our lives, we discovered we loved creating with words, images, music, or movement. Then later, someone told us with great certainty that we would never be a writer, an artist, a musician, a dancer, an actor, a you-name-it creative person. Invariably, the someone making this pronouncement was in a position of authority or trust. We were told by parents, teachers, and peers.
When this happened to me, the someone was a university art professor.
I heard “You will never be an artist.” and I stopped drawing for seventeen years. Mine was not the longest gap. One person in Saturday’s writing workshop was coming back to her love of creating after fifty years. I have met people who never recovered from the experience.
This happens not only to those in the arts. This happens to all of us. We love doing something. We have a dream. And then someone says to us, “You will never be. This will never be.”
Why does someone tell another person, “You will never be. This will never be.”?
What makes someone so sure they know another person’s future?
I don’t know the answers to the questions I ask. What I do know is that the way through hearing “you will never be” is love.
I left the visual arts degree program after hearing “you will never be.” I still grieve the loss. I wonder what I would be doing now, what kind of life I would have if I had stayed. And at the same time, I know the life I did have prepared me to return to the art I loved and claim the title of Artist as mine.
During the years of not drawing, I kept my love of making things with my hands. I found other ways to create. I crocheted and embroidered and sewed. I learned to weave, loved it, acquired a floor loom, and took over the extra bedroom in the house as my loom room. I learned to spin and dye yarn. My family and friends were the recipients of all this making.
I began calling myself a fibre artist, and loved how I felt when I used those words. They felt like me.
Then I discovered a new love, weaving tapestry.
I saw complex images in my mind, the tapestries I wanted to weave. But I discovered I was not able to recreate the images on paper, in preparation for planning the woven piece.
The Universe stepped in to support my love of making, and offered me two things. My sister introduced me to the book The Artist’s Way, and I discovered there was an art school ten blocks from my home. I said yes to both.
Love brought me full circle, back to drawing.
My love of creating with my hands would not let me go, and I listened to that love. It helped me find ways of making that carried me through and healed me of you-will-never-be.
If someone says to you, “You will never be”, let yourself feel the hurt. Then find a way to walk back into what you know you love, and walk through. Love is your power. I believe in you.
In this post:
Book The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, 25th Anniversary Edition published by Penguin, 2016. Originally published by Tarcher Putnam in 1992, and republished by Tarcher Putnam in 2002. Julia’s website is at http://juliacameronlive.com/