Originally published on November 21, 2010
I asked two artists, when did you know you wanted to be an artist? One replied she was a young child. The other replied that he didn’t know for a long time, but because he was good in math and science, he always emphasized he didn’t want to be either. It took a lot longer to put a name to it. For the record, I was six. It came as an epiphany. Up until then, I was encourage to believe I would be a doctor. It was a moment of rebellion, of truth, and of liberation. There was no turning back, but until I was in my first year of college, it was a search. Would I be a visual artist? Would I be a Flamenco Dancer? It would never be a musician with what I had a 10 year flirtation, laboring hours over a viola, that I traded in for a guitar. It took years to train my reluctant ear to tune these instruments. But it was all for a purpose, time well spent, rounding out the artist to eventually produce in the medium that had chosen me.
The answer came in my first semester as an art design student, I took a creative writing class, and the poetry I had been writing since I was 15, gelled. But the point is, even when one chooses, it is because there is no other choice.
There was a time that I suspended my writing–to change the world–and spent seven years deeply committed to political cause. One day a fellow traveler told me that I would make a greater contribution as a writer than an activist, and indeed, the realization that I had had at 21, that I need to experience more of life before I would be able to get down to serious writing, had borne its fruit. Words began to pour out. I didn’t write them down at first. I was actually unaware of this silent deluge that began to fill my head. One day, those words were all I could see, and I actually walked into a door. It was time to write. That was 32 years ago, and it hasn’t ceased.
What is your story?