Archive for May 13th, 2011


This Artist’s Creed has been around since 1994 and it is possible that it has inspired more women to stay true to their writing mission than any other singular piece of motivation. It is reprinted here with Jan’s permission.

Then I follow it with a short explanation of how it came to be through Jan. This is a short part of a much longer interview format I am working on for Jan.

                          Artist’s Creed

 I believe I am worth the time it takes to create
          whatever I feel called to create. 

I believe that my work is worthy of its own space
               which is worthy of the name, Sacred.

   I believe that when I enter this space, I have the right
to work in silence, uninterruptedly, for as long as I choose.

 I believe that the moment I open myself to the gifts of the Muse
                 I open myself to the Source of All Creation
          and become One with the Mother of Life Itself.

I believe that my work is joyful, useful and constantly changing,
    flowing through me like a river with no beginning and no end.

                   I believe that what it is I am called to do
              will make itself known when I have made myself ready.

           I believe that the time I spend creating my art
         is as precious as the time I spend giving to others.

      I believe that what truly matters in the making of art
          is not what the final piece looks like or sounds like,
               not what it is worth or not worth, but what
         newness gets added to the universe in the process
                      of the piece itself becoming.

        I believe that I am not alone in my attempts to create,
    and that once I begin the work, settle into the strangeness,
the words will take shape, the form find life, and the spirit take flight.

                          I believe that as the Muse gives to me,
                                 So does she deserve from me:
                      faith, mindfulness and enduring commitment.

                                     ©  1994 Jan Phillips

from my interview:

Tell us about your poem, “The Artist’s Creed”, when you created it, where it led you and what impact it had on your life and what you know of others’ lives. 

JAN:  “The most stunning thing for me when I taught my course at the International Women’s Writing Guild Summer Conference Program at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York was that I went into the room and I was with all these women among four hundred attendees and my thought was that I’m in the midst of all these marvelous women who are writing down their life. But as they raised their hands to my query of what they were writing, they began giving me all different reasons for why they were not writing.

One said, “I don’t have time to write”; the next one, “I don’t have a space to write”…my husband doesn’t support me, my kids are in my hair, I don’t think I have a story worth telling.” They gave me a whole litany of reasons why they were not writing.

 So I thought it would be a good idea for us to explore what each of our obstacles were to commitment and take a non-dualistic approach to it to see if we could spin it around and turn our obstacle into an opportunity. In facilitating this class, which I just whimsically called “Marry Your Muse”, I discovered women were in  deep trouble about their voice and expressing it. So I felt we really did need to have a ceremony and a ritual to put some energy into their newly discovered opportunities and not regress back into their old obstacles when they returned home.

These women now knew they did have time; they could make the tiniest of space work for their writing time; their work was important to them and the world, they could set boundaries for the kids; it didn’t matter if hubby didn’t support her activity; and most important, they were indeed worthy of this activity. 

So we had a commitment ceremony and ritual on the last day of class. I called in a woman, the oldest IWWG member at the conference, Dr. Benji Brooks, a pediatric  surgeon, to be the witness. We blessed water and anointed each other with water and each woman said her vow, based upon how she was reframing her obstacle.  Suddenly you have “I believe my work is worthy of whatever time it takes.”

I believe my work is worthy of its own space, worthy of the word sacred.”

 So actually the Artist’s Creed was a re-write, because I didn’t have anything written down. But I went home and I said, “These are the areas women were stuck, so I said “I think this is pretty close to what you all said and I made that creed into a card which I tried to get back to everyone in the room.

After I had done that from my home in Syracuse, this little voice  in my head said, “You need to say more, you need to write a chapter of every one of these tenants of the creed.” So I did. I wrote a chapter on time. I wrote a chapter on sacred space. I included stories of about twelve women working artists about what keeps them buoyed up and excited and light-filled during the dark times. My book, “Marry Your Muse” is a very good book for people who can’t remember why it is important that we put our creativity into the world.”

The Napkinwriter is one of the ones from that class who keeps remembering that it is important to put my creativity into the world. Do you? 

Sign up for Jan’s newsletter, “The Muse Letter” to find out more about her, visit her giftshop and perhaps discover she has a workshop coming in your area. Jan loves road trips!  http://www.janphillips.com/museletter.html


                                                            Jan Phillips

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