On making art

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“To me the purpose of art is to produce something alive…but with a separate, and of course one hopes, with an everlasting life of its own. ” ~ Henry Green  

Once upon a time, I considered becoming a midwife. It is a high calling to usher in a new life, to bridge the gap between pain and joy, to deliver the eternal into the temporal–little souls preexistent, now breathing and fully alive.  I considered it until I heard about the malpractice suits and the unpredictable hours. And then there was the screaming. Midwives deal with a lot of hand clutching and blood and screaming.

I gave up on the idea of midwifery for good after attending one too many scary births in my work as a nurse in neonatal intensive care. It only took one father yelling for Jesus to save his baby, one round of CPR to a blue-tinged newborn, one baby nearly dead, but now alive beneath my shaking hands, to turn me off to the entire situation. My heart can only handle so many close calls. However, I love the work of a midwife. I admire her ability to bring forth a life that already exists. The midwife is the bridge, the go-between, the one who holds hands with what is and what will be. They are artists, bringing order into chaos, beauty into darkness.

Instead of choosing midwifery, I chose to become a mother. I chose a job with lots of hand clutching, blood, and (God help me) screaming. Don’t even get me started on the unpredictable hours. I am on call 24/7. The malpractice suits may not exist, but something is always heading slightly off the rails. But, despite my deficiencies, I’m bridging the gap. Right now, I am ushering little souls into this big, bad world. I am the first heartbeat my children will ever know, the first ears, the first set of hands, the first to see how the shape of their soul fits into this particular space in time.

Instead of choosing midwifery, I chose to become a writer. If ever there were hand clutching, heart clutching, head-in-hands clutching, this is it. If ever there were screaming and tears and laboring to help birth something, anything, this is it. If ever there was a midwife, holding hands with both joy and pain, this is it. The stories already exist, they were written before time. It is simply my job as a writer, as a midwife of words, to help bring them to life, to offer my hands as a safe place for them to take their first breath.

I am writing chapters for a book that exists only in my head right now, and there is no way of knowing what will happen to them as I release them into the world. I am the one fussing over them, asking Jesus to breathe life into my words. I am the midwife, the mother, the artist, hoping to bring out this work. Hoping it will eventually have a life of its own.

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Thank you so much for sharing your art with me on Monday. What a gift, to see what happens in the secret places of your heart. Today, I want to know what you’re helping birth into this world? Babies, puppies, sweet cakes?

I’m linking up with Emily, who’s asking readers to highlight the art they’re making in their lives, as she finishes her month long series on art.

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  • Caroline Starr Rose

    What a lovely metaphor! I’ve been thinking a lot about the birthing process and its connection to writing lately, too (one book is with my editor, another just beginning). In some ways there are several births along the way: the first ideas, the writing them down, the turning them into what they need to be, the releasing into the world. All best with your writing.

    • KimberlyCoyle

      Several births, I like that:) Thanks for stopping by!

  • Sis

    I love writing too, never thought I’d be a writer but here I am.

    • KimberlyCoyle

      Sitting right here next to you.

  • Kelly Hausknecht Chripczuk

    I love the image of midwifery, Kimberly. It’s the best metaphor, I think, for the work of spiritual direction and though there are moments of fear and intensity, there are mostly also long hours of emptiness and waiting (in midwifing, in mothering, in writing) and these, sometimes are more fearful to me than those mosre exciting moments of bloody intensity!

    • KimberlyCoyle

      Yes! The waiting time is fearful. I wish it wasn’t so.

  • Found you through Emily’s link-up, and this is just all kinds of lovely!

    • KimberlyCoyle

      Thanks for stopping by, Emily:)

  • I love this in so many ways, Kimberly. (hug)