I am starting over and beginning again.
A decade or more ago I wrote snippets of characterizations, a few short stories, 2 dreadful novels, many poems, essays, and more. I wrote almost daily. Creating a vegetarian cookbook, trying to build this blog, and working on my creative fiction writing consumed my free time. In addition, I frequently carried my camera with me. I watched the world. Blessed with opportunity, I went on adventures and captured moments of beauty. Infrequently, I still sketched and created pencil drawings– I did go to art school once upon a time ago. I dyed yarn and collected fabrics that caught my eye. Once in awhile, I painted when the inspiration caught me. Collecting paint samples and unique images, I glued together collages. Fascinated by color, I made designs for quilts.
And then it all felt very meaningless.
Where did I lose the thread of meaning? A handful of my creative endeavors got tied up in painful relationships. Some I looked at in disgust because they were not as beautiful as I wanted them to be. Perfection is always a distant destination. Walking the line between creator and editor/critic became impossible. Creating anything was mixed with disappointment, expectation, pain, a sense of futility, sadness, regrets, fear, and inadequacy. Did I just burn out? No, not entirely. It’s more complicated than that.
Let me pull out a few of those emotions for a moment
Disappointment and Expectation
Disappointment comes to life in many different ways, but at its core it needs expectations. Expectations on yourself, on your ability to write or create art, on how others will perceive your writing or your art, on what being a writer or an artist will do for you, etc. tangle energy and drives. Expectations can imbue creating art or writing with meaning beyond the act or writing or creating art.
For instance, I give you the example of the grand expectation that creating art, writing, or music will cause any of us to be loved. Will anyone love you because you are a writer or an artist? Maybe, but honestly, this is not a good thing. At best, it is confused. No artist, writer, singer, or musician on the planet is their work. Each is a person. No one needs to perform or create to be loved. Further, I know from experience it is important to be able to walk away from your work and over-identifying with it is unhealthy.
Another example: expecting that you will be able to create masterpieces. Masterpieces are masterpieces and people disagree about who or what is the best. It is a good thing to want to create exemplary art or writing. It also takes a great deal of practice, making mistakes, reworking what you have done, and it is always a destination you cannot determine you have reached. This expectation is its own zen koan. Useful to consider.
Fear kills creativity. Procrastination is fear. Fear is important to consider. I was always timid about sending my writing out to various publishers and procrastinated sending my work anywhere. And I craved validation while fearing rejection. I could live in my own assessment of my work…
Here’s the thing. This is another koan wrapped up with expectations. It boils down to knowing what you really want.
Fear also keeps us from trying to write really difficult scenes. Anyone ever try to capture how quick bar fights happen? Fear keeps us from putting a mark on a blank page or canvas and can suck the joy out of being creative. When every single word or mark needs to be perfect or else… holy smokes creativity becomes fraught. And certainly not joyful or experimental.
Speaking of joy
This last fall, I completed a spiritual painting meditation to paint an image of Tara. I have a long history with Tara and when I saw that Whitney Freya was offering a 22 day painting meditation to create an image of Tara, I signed up. I read Rachel Wooten’s book, Tara: The Liberating Power of the Female Buddha as I worked on my painting. The experience was powerful and healing. It helped me to begin looking at why I stopped writing, drawing, painting, and creating in general. I am still working though past hurts, my own expectations, and getting in touch with my center between the creator and the critic.
This process has involved a good deal of “letting go”. Letting go of the past, letting go of my assumptions of my own skills and abilities, and more. I am starting fresh and beginning again. Becoming a beginner again is hard. I started an online tutorial called Draw A Box. It is to help me beef up my drawing skills. I am working on setting reasonable goals for my writing and art, considering I do have to work for a living.
I am posting to this blog to document my process and for my own accountability. It’s public. Anyone can read this. This blog and another one, Walk On This Earth, will be my online diaries as I change up what I am doing. I am getting older and it is time to do things a bit different, wring a little more out of this existence. This assessing the past, letting it go, facing the future, getting out of comfort zones, — it is very scary stuff. I hope by being as real as I can maybe someone else will find something that helps them.