Creative Life

by Jacquelyn Barnes

I live in the collision between slowing down and being ambitious, between experiencing and interpreting, where freedom meets commitment.

I believe in the power of the will. The greatest obstacle we face is a lack of will. Willpowerlessness. I take my goals and my commitments very seriously. I was raised to.

They are always crashing into one another.

My parents told me I could do anything I set my mind to, but my mind refuses to settle on any worldly thing. While I find this frustrating, I also believe it’s an expression of God’s grace, keeping me set on what I actually think matters: that he is setting—has set—my path.

I studied to work in a publishing house. I wanted to work for Tin House magazine. To go to graduate school and study publishing. Then there was community, then there was a calling to Spokane where there is no Tin House, and where literary jobs are hard to come by. I stayed in Spokane because I believed—and maybe still believe—that I can be a part of what it is becoming, that my creative life could impact this town.

Graduating from college led me deeper into the Spokane community. I coordinated a concert series. I did faux finishing for a neighborhood restaurant. I worked in the mansion garden and the bed and breakfast kitchen. I helped cater a wedding and was a hostess for a few days in a brand new restaurant. I wrote for that restaurant’s blog and took photos of their food, which I then ate.

I began editing books for local authors—some more stubborn than others, but I found little work that I actually felt proud to have helped make its way into the world of readers. I edited few books I would ever recommend.

I taught myself hand-lettering and got a job at a local coffee shop. Online classes, reading books, designing greeting cards and wedding invitations. Learning how to taste coffee. Discovering I have a sensitive palate.

I always have goals, goals I could achieve if I could only choose one.

There is only one goal that I can choose, and I choose it over and over again. One constant goal. It is to know—and point to—God. My God. Jesus Christ. If I cannot stop at any given moment and let the Holy Spirit wash over me anew—if I am going too fast for that—then I have failed.

As an artist, I feel I have so much to prove, reaching for excellence in everything I try, but I am in such a hurry to see myself succeed. I feel the pressure to stay afloat, get what I want, contribute to my family, serve God and others.

To slow down, to make something beautiful only because beauty points to heaven, seems impossible in this life. So I am waiting for a better life.

Some people have goals like a staircase. They know exactly where they are going, rigid step after rigid step underfoot. That’s how my dad’s career has been and my mom’s Ironman training. I come from a family of determined, successful people, but I have goals like a river. It knows where it is taking me, but I don’t. What I strive for as I float seaward is to keep splashing my face with the water, play with the fish, keep looking at the stars, jump in every once in a while, to travel with company.

Jacquelyn Barnes is a freelance copyeditor, writer, and designer—as well as a barista at Indaba coffee bar (because she loves West Central and needs a reason to get out of the house on a daily basis). She has a Bachelor’s Degree in English from Whitworth University. Although originally from Portland, Oregon, she has elected to stay in Spokane where she currently lives with her newly wedded husband, Ty.​

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