Though I boldly declared on my About page, when I began this blog, that I was all about embracing creative work for the joy of it (and nothing else), a recent post by the lovely and talented Alexandra Franzen* helped me see clearly that it’s easier (for me) to say such words than to really mean them.
Having my own creative work space means that I no longer have lack of such space as a reason not to engage with the kind of messy projects I’ve long longed to do. But I’m not doing them, and it’s not just because the last month has been so, so ridiculously busy. (Though it has been, and that does have a real impact on what I can do.)
I’ve observed two obstacles getting in my way:
Fear of not being good enough. The kinds of projects I want to do are visual, not verbal. And, I don’t have a lot of skill in this area. How could I? It’s not something I’ve ever made time for in my adult life. But, I really really really like to feel competent. I can re-read a million times Ira Glass’s words on how we have to muddle through the stage of not being very good before we can get good, but I still don’t like it. That I live with a guy who has highly developed visual skills (and an MFA in painting) doesn’t help.
Fear of being frivolous/irrelevant. I’m OK with indulging in visual work when it serves some practical need. So, I’m fine with sewing projects that create something for our home, such as pillows or curtains. But to make something purely decorative (especially when I don’t yet have developed skills)? Or something no one really needs (such as notecards or journals)? I’m having a hard time giving myself real permission to do that. And yet, those are the things I’m longing to do.
These two fears play nicely into each other. It would be OK, I guess, to do frivolous things if I were good at them. But I’m not (yet), so they feel even more frivolous. And, I want to do different kinds of frivolous things–some with paper, some with fabric, some with paper and fabric, some with yarn, some with…. How am I going to get good at anything if I’m constantly flitting from one thing to another?
I want to make things like Mar Cerdà, whose dioramas of Wes Anderson movie sets have been all over the internets recently. Things that serve no purpose other than to delight–but these are really, really good delightful things, aren’t they?
Obviously, on some level, I know this is ridiculous.
I know there is nothing wrong with giving some minutes of our lives to things solely for the purpose of pleasure. It’s not like I’m quitting my job and moving the family to a studio apartment so I can pursue my art. I know there’s nothing wrong with creating kinda crappy art, especially if doing so is necessary to some day producing kinda good art and it’s something we’re doing because we want to do it.
I know (I know!) these feelings are about all kinds of messages we all get from childhood on that are full of crap.
But it’s still hard to get past them. Because the first step in overcoming a problem (even an admittedly first-world one, yet another source of the funny feelings) is to admit it, name it, and share it with someone else, I am doing that here. And I am pledging to indulge in something creative just for the fun of it this week, and to share it here. No matter how not-good it is.
Anyone want to join me? I’ll show you mine if you show me yours. 🙂
*I can say with authority that Alexandra is lovely because I’ve met her. She and her beau Brandon put on an amazing weekend brunch here in Portland. If you’re local, check it out. I am not a foodie in any way, but these two could might just convert me.
Link to designboom article: http://www.designboom.com/art/mar-cerda-miniature-paper-movie-set-wes-anderson-02-12-2016/