Creating From Within

C. G. Jung, in undertaking his autobiography Memories, Dreams, Reflections, said he would not begin such a project unless it was imposed on him from within. That is a high standard that I believe is met by anyone who works for the primary reward of experiencing the creative process and what that process brings forth. But tasks can also be imposed from within that are undertaken for purposes other than the creative process.

I spent a summer between my second and third years as a law student working for a large law firm. My main project was a lengthy research project to try and determine whether the ocean liner Queen Elizabeth II was a motorboat under the Florida motor boating statute. Like so much that is done to advance a career or earn money, this task felt imposed from without and not from within.

Early in my work as an attorney I became an advocate for the rights of artists and authors. I did extensive, time-consuming research for the books titled Legal Guide for the Visual Artist and The Writer’s Legal Guide. The nature of the legal research was much the same as that done with respect to the status of the Queen Elizabeth II, but the research felt imposed from within because of my strong belief that strengthening the status of artists and authors served a valuable societal function.

More recently, I completed my novel A Floating Life. Here the imposition from within is easier to see because the novel reflects the vivid images and encounters of a life journey fleshed out by the play of imagination.

Of course, work imposed from within can be strenuous, difficult, and frustrating. But its correspondence to inner desire also makes it challenging and rewarding in ways that work done without inner compulsion can never be.

C. G. Jung carved the figure above of Telesphorus in stone at his estate in Bollingen. For more information about the carving, visit: The photograph of the stone is by Philipp Roelli [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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