Creative Ghosts

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about creativity. I am an artist and writer. By using both I am a story-teller using both words and pictures – sometimes together and sometimes not.

I am fortunate to know so many other creative beings who are writers, artists and musicians and even actors. Anyway, being one of those kinds of people is never easy. The risks of even admitting one is creative is great. You’re scorned if it is your passion or if try to make a living of it. You are celebrated if you succeed. There seems to be no in-between. And nobody understands, or so it seems. Mentors are few and far between. Paths are unclear and filled with holes.

Then again it can be wonderful and rewarding and magical. When I’m creating I’m happy. When I’m creating and making money that really makes me happy.

This morning I’m working on some drawings and writing, as well as some business…

I’d just fixed coffee in my red French press and looked out the window to see the red shoulder hawk sitting in an oak tree and turkeys walking below (just setting the scene.) Anyway, my brain was starting to go blank and doubt was setting in and my attention span was well, I have no attention span what so ever.

I looked up from my computer to see a pale face surrounded by a mass of shaggy dark hair. It was Nigel, THE GHOST, my ghost, sitting across from me with a fuck-you-Juliette look on his face.

“What are you trying to do today Vampire?” He was in one of his usual fresh out of the grave moods.

“I was just thinking about all of my insanely creative friends.”

“You have friends?”

“Don’t be rude. So tell me Nigel, you were a successful artist. How did you manage it?”

He leaned back in the chair and then loosened his tie.

“Well, Juliette, my dear dear dear Juliette, I learned the business. I was sort of an asshole. I never took no for an answer. I believed in my art. But most of all I had a lot of support. Nobody every expected me to do anything but succeed. Good thing my family didn’t want anything to do with me or I would have never done anything. But my friends and my foster family were my real family. They believed. They made me believe. I probably would have killed myself before I ever made it out of high school if I’d stayed with my biological family. I was my art. My art was me. There was no separation. I worked smart too, learned from my mistakes and… connections were a big thing. I went to the right school. Right away I started to network and find the right people. I’ve never been shy. I was driven. I didn’t listen to anyone who wanted me to be nice or follow the norms or get a real job. Most of all I was good. I was great. People still buy my art. They still love it. Can you imagine if I’d lived? Can you imagine all of the people with real talent who are alive right now but so beaten down by all of the crap that they’ve heard all of their lives about how art doesn’t matter? At least their art doesn’t matter because… It was easy for me because I didn’t have to please anyone but myself and I was damn great at both art and pleasing myself. Everything is easy if you go throughout life as sort of a prick.”

I listened and thought a bit then poured more coffee.

I looked up and Nigel’s handsome almost transparent face was next to mine. “And you want to know what else Juliette? Tenacity. A lot of tenacity. A whole lot of tenacity.”

“It is easy when you’re young to dream,” I said, thinking of the teens I know, and of my own youth.

He gave a laugh, but it wasn’t mean. It was happy. “But when you’re old you have the life experience. You can do anything.”

“It isn’t that easy,” I said.

“Nothing is that easy, especially bringing back that passion but it can be done.”

“Anything else?”

“Don’t be a ghost before you’re dead,” said Nigel and he vanished in a whisp of blue smoke.

I’ve had doors slammed in my face. So I go to a side door or through a window. Or I find a better door. Or I kick the door down. Or I sit outside and yell. But as I go through my own front door, into the home I love knowing that my creativity bought this house I know that nothing can get me down at this point. It can’t. I won’t let it.

As I embark on new creative endeavours, new journeys so to speak, I will try not to bring any old ghosts with me. Well, with one exception. I will bring Nigel along with me, even if he is a pain in the ass sometimes. But when I go it alone I know he’ll be there, along with so many others cheering me on.

And in turn, I will be on the sidelines cheering on my creative friends. Better than that I’ll march in the parade beside them.

Never give up your art. Never give up your creative spirit. Never give up. Never. Like Nigel said – don’t be a ghost before you’re dead.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

don't be a ghost

Alone with my art (and other musings about being yourself)

An old illustration I started for a Poe story. I've always liked it. That's all.

An old illustration I started for a Poe story. I’ve always liked it. That’s all.

In fine black ink lines and thin washes of color, I’m illustrating the classic Vampire tale Dracula.

I tried to start The Christmas Carol but I had some sort of mental block.

But Dracula is fun and weird and full of Vampires who aren’t like me. I don’t have to drag a coffin full of dirt around me. I’m a mom so my big mom purse is big enough. My kids make jokes that it is full of river rocks. I can’t imagine a coffin surrounded by dirt much less a coffin.

It would be fun to have a crazy guy at my beck and call to do my bidding (read the book you’ll know who I’m talking about.) Oh right, I have a husband. HA HA HA.

When Dracula came out we all read it. I loved the format in letters and diary entries. We laughed and then we went back to our world of darkness and love and the fine art of sharing blood and bring the friendly predators we are.

My first copy of Dracula was given to me by Lola, my great great great grandmother. She called it quaint but said I’d better read it because it would have a huge impact on culture and our lives. Fiction often does that. There are so many examples: Sherlock Holmes, The Lord of the Rings, Frankenstein, Animal Farm, Travels with Charley, Anna Karenina. The list is extensive. But we’re Vampires so Dracula was a big thing for us.

This blog is about Vampires – Modern Vampires. So you’re in the right place. I muse too. Want musings? You’re in the right place.

Lola is old and conniving and can charm the soul out of man unlike any other Vampire I’ve here met. She was born the same year as Jeffery Chaucer but can pass for 25. Except in her eyes that are as cold and deep as the Arctic Sea. I like using flowery descriptions when I talk about Lola. It fits her. She breaks all rules of good taste and correctness so when I write about her I’ll break all the rules too.

She tells me I need to draw more. Something that used to come so easy is hard for me now. Some clarification – I draw everyday. I just don’t draw my own art for my own pleasure.

By the way, I hate playing Pictionary. No. I’m done with parlor games that don’t contain trivia or aren’t played on the Wii.

At the very core of my dark heart and cold soul I am an artist. It is always how I’ve identified myself to myself. That isn’t dependent on how much I draw or paint.

How we see ourselves doesn’t depend on how we’re seen by the general public or anyone else. To your core you know who you are and what you are.

I live around teens. Some of them already know who they are. Some are still growing into their identities. They’re good kids – smart kids. They’ll find their identities. Sure they’ll change and mature as the years pass (as the centuries pass for some) but they’ll always know who they are.

You can live up to the expectations of others and do well. But you need to also live up to your own expectations. Living up to your own expectations is always much more difficult than living up to the expectations of others. It can be painfully difficult, but the rewards are infinitely greater.

So do your own art, whatever that is.

Have a good weekend everyone. Maybe in another post I’ll show some of my “good stuff.”

Lola and I are off to the museum to see a new show of someone she knew in the 1870’s.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Vampire Maman (look I drew something, now leave me alone)

Vampire Maman (look I drew something, now leave me alone)