Creativity is a c%*t. I have already discussed this in other blogs, but since it’s my blog and it’s all I’m thinking about these days, you’re stuck with this bullshit topic.
Creativity is everything. It the source of all life, it’s the soul-spark, it’s the be-all and end-all. But it’s so nebulous and confusing and elusive and I hate the way it toys with my tiny, overheated brain. It is no wonder that Van Gogh freaked out and cut his ear off. He was probably desperate for a valid excuse to lay around and not paint.
I had an enlightening conversation with a good friend of mine who is a sculptural artist at heart and has created beautiful things in the past, but like many people, is working at a decently-paying day job that she hates and wondering how to get out of it and be happy and supported making art. I told her that I know I can write and could possibly create something that people would find interesting and might purchase, but that every part of my being rails against such productivity, and when I have time to write I instead run to any other activity, and am left at the end of most days project-less and berating myself for self-defeating behavior. Then every 9 billion days or so something pops into my head and I absolutely have to write it down and I get all excited and think I am finally on my way until the following day when it’s gone and I can once again be found sprawled on the couch in my underwear watching a “Snapped” marathon.
I once asked another friend of mine, who wrote a successful first book some years ago, how her second book was coming along. She said, “The top of my refrigerator has never been cleaner.” See? Creativity is a c%*t.
Getting back to the first friend mentioned here, she asked me, “What do you feel when you sit down to work on a book?”
I said, “Numb. I feel numb and my brain goes blank and I feel an overwhelming desire to lay down and read someone else’s book or turn on the xbox or clean the bathroom or check facebook again.”
She told me that she did a meditation in which she tried to hone in on what was stalling her out, and she said that in the middle of it she felt a frightening chasm that felt like death open up in front of her. She came to the conclusion that when she faces the obligation to have to create it feels as if she is going to die.
“I feel an absolute panic and I will run anywhere to get away from it.”
Yes! I don’t feel danger or panic, but I shut down, which is its own little death. She went on to offer out the theory that for centuries creativity and “difference” was punishable by death, torture, and excommunication, and perhaps some of this panic and deadness could be past life oriented. I had never considered that and it made me feel better about myself. Maybe I’m not writing because I was burned at the stake centuries ago for being too AWESOME! I like this theory. I like it very much.
She said, “You’re not lazy. I’m not lazy. Think of all the things you do. You work hard jobs, you learn new skills, you pay your bills on time, you take care of your animals, you cook, you clean, you answer emails. This is not about laziness.”
Why do I always overlook this and opt to beat myself up? I automatically assume that things aren’t moving because I’m the worst person on the planet, and once I’m in that state of mind, everything really shuts down. It’s a ridiculous cycle. I don’t write, and I hate myself for not writing. I hate myself, therefore I don’t write. Thousands and thousands of people aren’t creating some amazing thing right now, and I don’t think any less of them for living their lives without putting imaginary pressure on themselves. Why aren’t we as nice to ourselves as we are to strangers?
From the time I could hold a pencil, I drew pictures. I loved to draw. I drew on anything in the vicinity. I drew cute dinosaurs with giant eyes and then dogs and horses and then in high school moved on to drawing lame posters of imaginary boyfriends for high school assignments: “Look, it’s Dionysus re-imagined as a rock star!”
I was good, and when I hit community college I got talked out of a literature major into an art major by my art professors, who felt it was where I belonged. They found my punk rock mentality entertaining and supported every creative whim.
I thrived in that creative atmosphere, but I wanted out of Michigan. I decided that fashion design could utilize some of these creative urges, get me into NYC, and keep me occupied until I fulfilled my true, secret career aspiration, which was pampered rock wife. I crippled my parents financially with a nice little acceptance into Parsons, a school which prides itself on hammering students relentlessly, and I spent a grueling first semester painting square inch watercolor swatches for hours, late into the night. I hated the work, the swatches swam in front of my eyes when I tried to sleep. I was up against gay boys who had been locked away drawing dresses their whole lives. I was crap at draping and found pattern making tedious. I found the whole business soul-deadening and should have gone back to happily noodling out ligers. In the middle of the second semester my dad died and I dropped out of school, gave away my drafting table and all my art supplies, and never drew again. This comforting urge and habit that had been with me my whole life disappeared almost overnight.
Ten years ago I bought some new supplies, attempted a drawing and saw that the basic ability was still there, albeit rusty, but my desire was still firmly on vacation.
So what is that? How is it that some people are driven, can tap into it all day, and then other people have the talent but not the drive? How is it that some remarkably awful books get written and sell a million copies, a blog about absolutely nothing will write itself in my head, and yet some truly interesting stuff that has happened to me has still not made it to the keyboard? Is it that figuring out the creative process is the real soul lesson, not the actual act of creating? Is it that I am supposed to let go of the idea that I have to prove I’m special? Is it just not time?
Gaaahhh! Thinking about it makes me want to NOT think about it and maybe just blog about cats and burritos for the rest of my life:
ME: I’m fat again. We are consuming nothing but salads and vegetable juice for the rest of eternity.
DREW: What? Are you saying that Mary’s March Madness Burritofest 2013 has finally come to a close? Say it isn’t so!
Sigh…Yaaaasss. It continues to be time to pick up the creative thread, but this is all I’ve got for the time being. I’ll get right on it as soon as I finish watching a few Jenna Marbles videos. This one, btw, pretty much sums up a busy Saturday night bartending in Manhattan.