” The Artist is frustrated not because the passage is slow, but because he imagines it to be fast ”
– Art and Fear –
This one line, represented an immediate epiphany for me.
And if you are a frustrated creative which, let’s face it, most of us are in some way or another – how is this quote sitting with you?
Have you also just now been blindsided by the realisation that you may have held unreasonable expectations of yourself and the creative process for like, oh, I don’t know, FOREVER !?
Or is it just me who is coming to grips with the possible source of a lifetime of angst ?
AKA, the unconsciously held belief that talented and successful people for the most part, find ‘art making’, in any form, fairly swift and painless in comparison to the rest of us.
Yes, yes, of course I knew that some practice and effort was involved, but ultimately far less than I seem to have wrestled with.
And as a result, this other blessed lot, get to spend more of their lives basking in the delight of their far more easily acquired accolades and success.
Like Santa at a pre school Christmas concert.
They just breeze through their creating, because, well, they are just bloody creative !
And so here I’ve been, languishing on what I now know to be the fantasy train and spending a lot of time whilst there, in awe of all these blessed and gifted others.
And feeling just a little bit, ugh, yep..
So who am I talking about?
Well, you know, those groovy free spirited fourth generation musicians who were born to create hits whilst simply standing in the shower, or sitting at a campfire.
The people with guitars and messy but cool hair who need only their genetically acquired talent to marry a melody with lyrics.
As easily as pairing up socks.
( Maybe not the best analogy if you’ve been to my house.. but anyway … ).
And those writers, who sit in cottages peering into fireplaces ( there’s always a fire in my fantasies…. ) and sipping red wine whilst churning out books, articles and blogs in a brilliant stream of flawless consciousness.
Often before breakfast.
Yep, wine before breakfast. That’s what happens in their perfect world.
And it doesn’t make them sick either.
And let’s not forget the confident orators blessed with the gift of the gab, accurate memories and articulate finesse.
Telling their stories on the radio or telly without an ‘um’ or a ‘like’ any which way to be found. Perfect in every way.
For Gods’ sake.
And here I’ve been for what seems an eternity, screwing up bits of paper, deleting things, rolling my eyes and stomping about the many houses we’ve moved in and out of.
Whose floorboards were no doubt glad to see the back of me.
And sometimes my kids. And husband. Yikes.
And time and again I’d arrive back at the only conclusion I could ( or so I thought )…
That because I have not been able to churn out a Harry Potter novel or a ‘Candle In the Wind’ hit tune in one fell swoop – I just do not have what it takes.
And should therefore give up.
Yep. Perfectly rational.
Thankfully however, a couple of months ago in yet another deft move, my super sleuthing therapist served up a juicy watershed moment when she handed me the little ‘Art and Fear’ book.
I wasn’t sure where she was coming from when she did it, as we were relative newbies to each other.
However in an act of faith ( she did come highly recommended ) I took the book. And read it. Even though I rolled my eyes ( on the inside of course ) at the title’s inference, that I could be afraid of writing or singing.
I mean please.
These two things are all I have ever wanted to do, in terms of a career. Or hobby.
As if I would be frightened of that!
Although only a few pages in, I worked out that I could be.
” It’s much easier to admire our heroes from afar, than to be our own lesser version of those qualities ”
– Owning Your Shadow –
( No prizes for guessing who gave me that book also. Lol ).
So yep. It’s a bit scary to really put ourselves out there.
Much easier to live with the possibility of “If Only, One Day… “
Not to mention the realisation that we are also likely afraid of actually having to WORK hard for our success.
So, it turns out that talent isn’t enough after all, and in fact, isn’t even always necessary, as long as one applies a few other practices and principles ( Get the book ! )
And that my fantasy has been a load of rubbish.
Can you believe that all this time, people have been out there WORKING HARD at their crafts??
What the actual hell.
Yes, it seems that whilst I’ve been sooking and envying and having a crack here and there, they have been…
Writing and editing. Shooting and re taking. Painting and turfing stuff out. Recording and re recording. Trying and failing. Swearing and stomping. Staring at blank pages and silent keyboards. Getting up early and going to bed late. Submitting and being rejected. Missing their kids. Practicing and learning. Starting and stopping. Stopping and starting. And here’s the coolest thing.
And for most of my life, despite WANTING to write songs and tell stories, I just haven’t followed all the way through with enough gusto because of this nifty little dream wrecking combo:
COMPARING ONESELF WITH OTHERS + BELIEVING THAT SUCCESS COMES EASILY + LIFE BEING A LITTLE TOO COMFORTABLE
= GIVING UP.
I remember once hearing a story about a man with a dog sitting tied up in a yard always whining.
His neighbour asked what was wrong with the dog. The owner stated that the dog was sitting on a nail. So the neighbour asked the logical question as to why the dog didn’t just get off it. To which the owner replied
” It just isn’t hurting enough”.
And similarly, Bayles and Orland say this:
” Artists don’t get down to work until the pain of working is exceeded by the pain of ‘not working’ “
So with the help of my therapist, my PTSD necessitating career redirect, my fabulous Deakin Uni lecturers tutors and classmates, and of course a whole stack of people who love me, I have gotten down to work.
Realising that it will take learning, practice, mistakes, vulnerability, inconvenience, humility, persistence, resilience, patience, grit. Fear and courage.
And not quitting.
And hence, as a start, this blog has come to pass.
With all the challenges and successes that I will do my best to share within it as you and I navigate the B Side of our lives, for whatever reason.
Because it just got too painful for me, not to do what I love and discover who I am.
And I realised that I simply have to do the work bit by bit, and love doing it regardless of where it leads.
And in the process, perhaps share a few things with you as I bumble along.
On that note and in the interest of transparency I can tell you that this blog post did indeed take ages, required a lot of editing and back spacing and quite the few deletion of GIFS.
I’ve also been writing it in my flannelette pyjamas, un showered, with messy not- cool hair, and no wine. And it’s now almost 2pm.
And as an extra reality bonus, you may like to watch the following blooper reel to see a little of what occurred in the making of the video in my last post before this one.
So maybe watch that first here, to appreciate what is to come next.
And how things are seldom as easy as they might appear.
It’s not G Rated.
I was going to bleep out the swear words, but I did swear, so what would be the point.
I was on my own, and feeling very frustrated.
And it really did take me soooooo many attempts and a lot of work to arrive at the final product.
Probably like all those other people have had to do.
And like you will.
Just don’t ever think that you can’t do it. Like I once did.
Or that’s it’s too late.
Or that you are too old.
Because. You. Aren’t.
PS – Oh – and do get these books:
Art and Fear – David Bayles and Ted Orland
Owning Your Own Shadow – Robert A Johnston