The Artist In All Of Us

martha grahamAt the end of the year, many people take stock. Artists do, too. For us, this self-assessment can take various forms. Did I create new work this year? Did I have any successes? Did I keep my vision for my work in sight? Are my skills better than they were a year ago? Do I have more confidence? Am I any good at all? In response to my own questions and to others, I can do no better than to quote Martha Graham.

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. … No artist is pleased. [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching . . .”

My own tally for the year looks like this: 3 poems and one essay accepted. 45 blog posts published. 32 submissions to a variety of publications. Attendance at one local author’s fair. Attendance at Bouchercon in Toronto. Those are the visible examples. There’s also a draft of a memoir, along with drafts of poems, essays and stories. A presentation in the works. With the new year only a few days away, I look forward to a continuation of the “blessed unrest” that keeps me marching.



About Lida Bushloper

writer and poet
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2 Responses to The Artist In All Of Us

  1. jo says:

    I’ve always loved that quote of Martha Graham. Thanks for reminding me of it. And notable accomplishments for the year, Lida. How satisfying it must be to see it all tallied.


    • It’s hard to put the tally down on paper in public. It seems so meager. But a self-assessment needs to be honest if it’s to be helpful. At least I’m comparing myself only to myself and not to others. I try to remember to be proud of what I’ve done, not ashamed of what I haven’t done. Best wishes, Jo.


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