Valentine’s Day is for lovers, for family, for friends, for children, and for pets. It’s also for artists, for creators, and for writers, too. We can think of our relationship to creativity as a labor of love, but a passion project requires more than care; it requires a commitment.
These projects are marked by the love-is-a-battlefield kind of love (thanks, Pat). We may actively avoid committing because so many complicated feelings are involved: We’ll need to negotiate some give and take, some push and pull, and our intense, sometimes furious devotion.
A passion project also stirs up resentments that can mimic our most fraught intimacies (echoing Terry Real’s “normal marital hatred” here). We can spend infinite time thinking about our project, or thinking about making time to work on it, or thinking about working on it. But then, when we’re actually working on it, we’re dissatisfied. Infinitude is too vast. We want something more, something better, something different.
Valentine’s Day is a good day to remember that when it comes to the objects of our passions, it can be ok to hate—just a little bit—what we love. Maybe your project seems to require too much sacrifice. Maybe it doesn’t live up to your standards or your ideals. Maybe your standards are so high that you can’t begin the work.
Psychotherapists and philosophers have long suggested that, in our intimate relationships, big resentments and small hatreds might possibly enhance our love. Perhaps, like the naughty child seeking secure parental devotion, our project thwarts our every effort at discipline to test our dedication.
Maybe. Maybe not. But if you find yourself returning to a project—whether an idea, a book, a venture—again and again, even after false starts and disappointments, it may be because your love is true. Celebrate your passion: It’s probably time to commit.