Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Art of Surrender

"I still couldn’t call myself an artist. The way I saw it, I created energy-enhancing tools and just happened to employ the same instruments used by 'real' artists." 
~ from "The Art of Surrender" in my memoir, Acts of Surrender: A Writer's Memoir
•     •     •     •     •

Some years back I was coaching an accomplished writer who had already published several short stories. She had even won awards for a few of of them. I'll call her Sally, but she's a composite of several clients, all of whom carried a reluctance similar to the one I'm about to describe.

Sally asked me to help her with a novel she was conceiving. As we worked together over the weeks, I discovered that she refused to call herself a writer. "A writer has written a book," she insisted. "I've just written short stories."

"A writer writes," I retorted, quoting the You Are A Writer meditation included in my two books on writing. The meditation continues: "That’s what you have done. You have written."

For homework, I insisted that Sally listen to the recording of that meditation at least twice a day for a month.

You are a writer. 
What you write is powerful. 
What you write is vibrant. 
What you write, whatever you believe in this moment, is luminous. 
Trust that to the best of your ability, in this moment. 
Acknowledge the writer you are, in this moment. ...
You are a writer.

In less than a month, thanks to You Are A Writer, Sally could finally state clearly and unequivocally, "I am a writer."

I have no difficulty calling myself a writer, perhaps because my writerly identity snuck up on me so sneakily and surreptitiously, and over so many years. But I have never been comfortable calling myself an artist. 

Never mind that I've had photographs published in The Globe & Mail, Canada's most prestigious English-language daily, and that I've sold my artwork all over the U.S.

Yet if a writer is one who writes, then an artist must be someone who creates art. Given that I have been creating art for decades, isn't it time for me to surrender to that part of my identity?

All artists in all media are storytellers. At our best, we create from that innate heart-spark that everyone carries. We also create from that place of authenticity, discovery and revelation that can make us feel vulnerable and scared, that can hold us back from sharing our work...that can keep us in hiding.

I realized, when I recalled the Sally story a few days ago, that I can no longer hide this part of myself -- from me any more than from the world. It's time to claim my artist identity. It's time to do what I inspired Sally to do. It's time to say it, publicly as well as to myself:

I am an artist
I am an artist. 
I am an artist. 

There. That feels better.

But there's more to do. Without action, those artist-words could easily be empty words.

What's my next step? The answer is clear before I finish asking the question: I must claim my professional artist identity.

I start by ordering new business cards, long overdue. For the first time, these add "artist" and "photographer" to "author," "screenwriter" and "creativity catalyst."

It's a start, but I know that it's not enough. I need to do something more concrete. What I decide to do is to create a new website, a dedicated online gallery for my work.

Suddenly, my drawings, photographs and inspirational art are being sold in a professional setting, and it surprises me to discover that I feel more anxious about releasing my visual art into the world than I do about putting my books out. (I've probably forgotten how scared I was when my first words hit print 37 years ago!)

Yes, I'm feeling anxious. But I'm also excited. It's energizing to share the fruits of my creation in more than a casual way. It's even more exhilarating to integrate into my "family" an orphaned inner child that I have long been reluctant to acknowledge, to give yet another part of me a voice in this sometimes messy, often paradoxical, always unfolding agglomeration of bits and pieces that is Mark David Gerson.

In the end, though, isn't coming back into wholeness what this journey is about? It's certainly what I have written about and taught for more than two decades. Whether I'm aware of it or not, I'm sure that even my art reflects it.

And so my artist website is launched, with more images -- art, photography and what I'm calling "inspirational art" -- being added to it every day. Apparently, I am an artist!

Please check out my drawings, photography and inspirational/motivational art at
Mark David Gerson Fine Art/Photography
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Photos (c) Mark David Gerson: "Passion Flower," "An Open Heart Knows No Limits" and many other images are available from Mark David's fine art/photography website unframed and as framed/matted prints, canvas wraps, acrylic prints, metal prints, greeting cards and iPhone cases.

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