December 22, 2011, by Stephen Mumford
The impulse for an artistic outlet is a common one. In singing, acting, drawing, poetry, prose and in making artefacts, it seems that we are expressing our creative urges. Such instincts are often crushed by situation, if people have to spend a lifetime of drudgery, for instance. But give someone leisure time and resource and they will almost certainly turn towards some artistic endeavour or craft. We want to create, not just things but also ideas or beautiful and thought-provoking works.
There may be a distinction between arts and crafts but such a distinction does not concern me here. Both appear to be manifestations of our need to create. Making pottery, for instance, may just as well satisfy the creative desire.
But we also need to find the right vehicle for such expression. It needs not just an outlet but also the right one for the individual. Finding what that is may be a task that takes time and those in a life of drudgery might never succeed.
In my own case, I feel content that I did eventually find my outlet but it was no easy matter. In my youth I thought it would be music. I was in several bands on guitar and vocals the best of which was called Suckerbait (don’t bother googling them: we were before the internet). I had a whale of a time but also knew that I wasn’t quite good enough. My compositions were too derivative. I wanted us to be Sonic Youth. The music career was eventually abandoned.
Something else took its place. For one year as an undergraduate I wanted to be a painter. I had a number of moderately successful efforts which I gave away and only one of my paintings is still around: a portrait of my now wife in the style of Klimt with a tip of the hat to van Gogh. Within a year I knew, however, that I could not be an artist of the standard I wanted.
I never would have guessed that when I found my outlet it would be writing. I had not been good at English at school nor a good essay writer at University. But in becoming a philosopher I was forced to write more and more. To my surprise, people who read it said they liked my writing and that was encouragement enough. It is almost 20 years since my first philosophical publication and I am very sure that I have indeed found my outlet.
I wish the best of luck to anyone seeking to find theirs. For those who like me are sure they have found their outlet, may it continue and grow. It puts one at ease with oneself, content to be creating and expressing one’s thoughts. I trust you will enjoy the fulfilment it brings.