Carpe the effin’ diem: Thoughts and Advice for Artists/Creators 4

This short essay first appeared on the ArtsBoston blog. They asked me to write something about the arts and a message to artists and the creative community during the Covid-19 period. I hope it will resonate with you and thank you for taking time to read it. Carpe the effin’ diem: Thoughts and Advice for Artists/Creators by Candelaria Silva:

In this time of restriction because of Covid-19, I encourage artists to use art to create balance in their lives, put beauty into the world, and reflect on and illuminate who we are as human beings.  I encourage art appreciators to support art aggressively.  It will lift you and contribute positivity to the  world.

In this time of restriction, I have found myself looking back over my life as an active arts administrator, community-connector, and inactive artist myself (until recently).  My message succinctly put is to carpe the effin’ diem with apologies to the Roman poet, Horace, for riffing on his phrase “carpe diem” which means seize the day.  It has always been true that one needs to seize opportunities and activate ideas, but the restrictions of Covid-19 and a rapidly warming climate makes this more urgent than ever.

if I could turn back the hands of time and talk to myself as a young woman, there are so many things I would say.  Since I can’t talk to her, I will talk to you hoping to make you understand this:  the time will never be better for you to create than it is at this moment.  This was true as I was beginning my journey; this was true all along the way; and it is true now.

The day that you have an idea or an inkling of an idea is the ideal time to start.  The days when you have energy that lasts all day and into the night are the perfect days to create.  The days/weeks/months when so many ideas come at you that you don’t know which one to follow and get stymied trying to choose, is the time to work on multiple ideas.  Pick one thing and do it.  Then pick another and do it.  Sometimes you will give each of the many projects their own time sequentially throughout a year; at other times you will work through them sequentially in a day.  Pick one.  Give it its due. In making a selection,   one will jump to the front of the line and make you follow it to fullness if not completion. 

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There will never be a better time to create than when nothing is selling or you are in between grant cycles or you have art waiting to be selected.  This is a time when you must create until the audience/customers/grants/shows come.  Create to perfect your craft.  Create routinely, regularly.  Even modest, run-of-the-mill creations will bring forth something magnificent or new –   bits of creativity that work to prime the pump of your inspiration.  Discipline to create product.

Create because in creation you are putting artistic energy into the universe.  Bits of that energy, that focus will float beyond the space they were created and be borne by the air to places near and far – hearts, minds, and energies that will eventually open up to you.

When you can’t find a patron or a source of outside money, believe in yourself enough to produce your own work – modestly or boldly.  Do it. Ask for help from your family/friends/community to whom you’ve given and supported. Celebrate and elevate all the beauty and creation of fellow artists.  Their lights shine and yours will, too, ‘cause we all have light like the degrees of a three-way bulb – our light will be turned up when it’s  the time but the degrees of light are always there.

Get over the scariness of the word NO.  Don’t tell yourself no by not going for it, whatever it is.  When you hear no from others, understand that a no now is not a forever no.  Learn and grow.  Learn and reapply. Learn and go – to another source, another way.  Feel the fear of rejection and push through it.  

Build a team of people to help you as you create – hire and barter to assemble the team.  As artists/creators we can’t do every single thing. Your team might include a proof-reader and/or editor; a good financial person; and an assistant to help you organize paper or help staff your reception or booth.

Expand the communities and networks you know and who know you.  Visit, virtually and eventually in person, other neighborhoods, other cities/towns/states/countries; different artistic and creative disciplines; and new venues, etc.  Don’t be afraid to be the only person of your tribe at events and on committees.  That’s how we learn, grow, and get seen.

Nothing ever succeeds but a try. So carpe the effin diem.  Today. Okay?


Falling Asleep at the Wheel of Your Life

Carpe the Effin’ Diem: Thoughts and Advice for Artists/Creatives – on the ArtsBoston site

About Candelaria Silva

Candelaria Silva-Collins is a marketing, community outreach and programming consultant; writer; and trainer/facilitator who lives in Boston, Massachusetts. She has designed and facilitated workshops on a wide variety of topics including communication, facilitation, job search skills, team building, and parenting issues. She currently coordinates the Community Membership Program of the Huntington Theatre Company. Her work as Director of ACT Roxbury was profiled in several publications, including The Creative Communities Builders Handbook. Candelaria’s children’s stories, short stories, essays and reviews have been published in local and national publications and she is an active blogger. Her publications include the booklets, Handling Rejection; Pushing through Shyness: Networking Tips when You’re Shy, Slow to Warm Up or Just don’t Feel you Belong; and Real Questions about Sex & Relationships for Teens: A Discussion Guide for Parents. She has served on the boards of Goddard College, Wheelock Family Theatre, Boston Foundation for Architecture, and Discover Roxbury. She is currently Chair, Designators of the Henderson Foundation.

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4 thoughts on “Carpe the effin’ diem: Thoughts and Advice for Artists/Creators

  • DeeDee

    Wow. I can’t believe how the Universe saw fit for me to read this post. I’ve been struggling for sometime to make that creative move. As always, you are on point, Ms. Candy. Thank you!


    Amen Candelaria—my sentiments entirely! This is the first time in many years that l can dedicate chunks of time in solitude to “make art”without having to make excuses for the need of solitude to play/experiment—produce art! I miss socializing but what a wonderful time we’ve been given to dive deep into ourselves to intentionally explore and make new work!

    • Candelaria Silva Post author

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. Making art without excuses is an internal decision we make. Some people I know are still not taking advantage of the luxury of time that has been delivered to some of us who are not essential workers. And even when there is “no time” and other pressing concerns, we still have to make time even if it’s a sliver to jot down ideas that we can pick up later. I read once about a woman who got up very early in the morning and wrote for 15 minutes each day – before her family woke up. All that writing added up and she had a book.