The work

Patti Smith
I’m reading Just Kids, Patti Smith’s beautiful memoir of her life in New York city with the artist Robert Mapplethorpe. I love Patti Smith. My friend Lauren, who lives in New York and goes to lots of celebrity gatherings, met her at one, and of all the famous people Lauren has met it was Patti Smith that impressed me most.

The book describes the two then-starving artists working side-by-side in tiny spaces, encouraging and inspiring each other. Often, the work was frustrating. Smith writes that she began to feel overwhelmed by her inability to create art that related to the events of the late 1960s, suspicious of the art world establishment, and doubtful that anything she did mattered.

Mapplethorpe had no patience with her existential ruminations, and Smith writes, “by his example, I understood that what matters is the work: the string of words propelled by God becoming a poem, the weave of color and graphite scrawled upon the sheet that magnifies His motion.”

Since starting this blog I’ve been thinking a lot about why I write. I am constantly frustrated at my difficulties finding creativity and inspiration, the tortuous process that accompanies the exercise of committing words to the screen. I am like a jealous lover when I read the work of colleagues whose prose flows fast and fluid while mine comes slow and reads like a text.

“What matters is the work.” Those words resonate with me. I believe if I can really learn that lesson I can loosen the bonds that keep my writing so tight and labored. If I can appreciate the process for what it is, embracing whatever result I achieve, I can be a writer.

Photo credit by Flickr User schemp65

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