Monday, March 14, 2011

Embrace negative feelings? Yeah, right... Part 2

My last post introduced some common negative thoughts that can stymie writers, creative artists, and anyone undergoing an arduous healing journey. Here I revisit them to show why we should embrace them.

This is too hard.
Yes, hallelujah! This is why great thinkers are so drawn to creative endeavor. Like life, it challenges us in almost every way possible: our ability to juggle detail while tracking the large picture in our minds; the ability to research fact at the same time we are willing to surrender to imagination; the ability to construct surface tension while adding emotional, philosophical and psychological underpinnings; the willingness to invite inspiration and then thank it and let it go when the time comes so that the work can evolve on its own path. And doing all of this while employing both natural and learned aspects of craft that from the beginning of time have kept the listener/viewer/reader tipped forward in her chair in breathless delight. Creative endeavor taps everything we are. The artist creates something that before didn't exist—and couldn't exist, without her perspective. If it were easy, it wouldn't be half as seductive.

I thought I'd be farther along by now. That yearning for more, that need to reach ever higher, is what makes it possible to embark on such a trying ordeal without the guarantee of any reward. Yearn away!

I'm not as good as I first thought I was. Your accomplishments will never be great enough and your work will never be good enough—this is the nature of the creative process that one best stop fighting, and learn to accept. Be glad for the irritation of your self-criticism, for it's that left-brained, self-critical element that allows us to improve.

The economy will not support what I'm trying to do. Creative endeavor is front-loaded to the extreme, even in better market conditions. The world has not conspired against you, all artists are in the same boat. Our fear reminds us how important it is to keep trying. If we give up, the arts will continue to atrophy, and society will suffer a great loss. Let the unfavorable odds incite us to try harder.

My uncle gave up on his novel because "the back of his bedroom door was plastered with rejection slips," according to my aunt. His DOOR! What would one door hold—ten, twelve pages? Some of us could plaster the exterior of our houses!

When dissatisfaction and disappointment rear their ugly heads, thank them for visiting you, because they're a necessary part of the creative life. Listen for what information they have for you—"you must now learn to confidently wield point of view," for instance—and then dismiss them, go for a long walk, and get a good night's sleep.

Then get back to work.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Kathryn - I needed this today! We writers ride an emotional rollercoaster of soaring ups and painful downs - but we would have it no other way. So, I read this today and tuck my head under and keep moving forward knowing my next up is just around the corner!-Donna G.

Helen Ginger said...

Very good, Kathryn. For every negative, you provided a cheer. No matter what negative thoughts creep into your head, hunker down and keep moving toward your goal.