Week 6 of Quarantine: The Artist's Responsibility

The weather was less shifty this week, and I got ready to plant a garden (pumpkin patch, here I come).  The daffodils and wildflowers are popping in our woods, and I felt inspired to write a lot of songs. 

This quarantine has been a great time for artists to create.  I've written 2 dozen tunes since Illinois was ordered to shelter in place.  Some of the songs are unremarkable, but some feel like the muses were working through me. If that's ever happened to you, you know: 

When the muses use you, it feels like magic. 

The magic disappears, however, when we start trying to direct the muses.   And that's what happened to me by the end of the week. 

I've been glued to the news in recent weeks, wondering how our government is handling this pandemic, wondering how other Americans are handing it, wondering how the world is handling it. Some days I'm irate, some days I'm grateful, and some days I'm full of sadness. Because I'm so full of feeling, it seems like I should be writing about those feelings during these times. 

And yet, when I sit down to write, I don't feel called to write about my government rage.  I don't feel called to write about my sadness about the casualties of the virus.  And I really don't feel called to write about my financial uncertainties. 

Instead--for a reason unbeknownst to me--I'm writing songs about the moon, celestial events, and the colors of flowers at dusk. 

It got me thinking about an artist's responsibility.  Because I can write songs, doesn't that mean I'm responsible for penning tunes for the times?  As a creator with a conscience, it sure feels like I should. But then why does it feel so unnatural?  The answer hit me this morning: 

Because artists are not journalists.  We're not historians.  We're not even storytellers.  We're creators whose sole responsibility is to follow inspiration, regardless of its relevance, accuracy, or goodness. 

Reader, if you're a fellow artist, take heart in knowing there is no right way to make, during this quarantine, or ever.  Listen to what calls you.  In honoring that calling, you're honoring your craft. 

With that, I'm off to write another unforced tune about God-knows-what.  I'll see you next Monday. -Em

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