I was talking about art the other day, with another artist friend who works in charcoal and pencil, and we agreed that there are two ways to do things: you can either sit decoratively in a coffee shop like a proper bohemian, sipping your cappuccino and waiting for the muse, or you can get your thumb out of your ear and show up every day, whether you want to or not, and get to work. The beat poet in me loves the idea of the first option--just sitting there having another and being all artsy, letting things percolate. It can be useful, and sometimes it works out great, because sometimes things are really rich and ideas are flowing like wine, and you're in your hammock reading a book you bought because it was big enough to last the whole vacation and before you know what's happening you're writing Hamilton and getting enormously famous. But really, mostly, it's all about sitting down and getting on with it, because sometimes the creative mind kind of takes a powder and you look around and it's been years and you're just not doing it at all. He doesn't want to hear about how busy you are and how much you mean eventually to get around to something. Every time I see him he asks me what I'm working on, and if I say, "Well, you know how it is, life and everything..." he raises a gray eyebrow at me and smirks a little and reminds me that he practices his golf swing every single day of his life, even if he has to clear a spot in the snow so he can find the ball. He reminds me to get to work. Whatever it is I do, I need to do it every day.
It doesn't have to be good every time. It might hardly ever be any good. It might make me think twice about showing it to you, and force me to make a disgruntled face. [Is this a giant anthill? Why is the sun brown? These are not questions I ask myself.] I just do it, and put it on the pile, and tomorrow I will do another, and the next day, another. There may be, in the end, 365 tiny paintings of anthills and dirty suns and unintentionally apocalyptic landscapes and scary birds, but I am not concerned with that right now.
He reminds me to show up and do it, every day, even if it snows, and even if I wish I could just skip it and do it twice tomorrow. How will any of it--good, bad, ugly, perfect--happen at all if I only imagine it?