And they're right, and I should. And I do.
Sometimes the creative process looks nothing like Good Art, or any art. It looks like being unable to work any more because something just isn't right. It looks like lack of focus and no direction.
That's fine. That's normal. It just means there's clutter somewhere that needs to be cleared so the path I want to be on can be discovered again. It's a disruptive part of any life process, and it's called Maintenance.
I used to find Maintenance worthy of many tears, but I've since made peace with the fact that some days simply must be spent in some form of stasis, running diagnostics on my existence and reassessing/reinforcing my boundaries. Domains must be cleaned, errands must be run, food must be prepared, money must be budgeted, time must be scheduled, broken things must be fixed, and sleep must be slept. When it comes to maintaining my work, I must take a step back from actively-producing-fine-art-and-literature to analyze what I've made, what I'm making, and what I really want to be making.
Recently, I attempted to storyboard a new book, and it was a disaster.
"You can't do this"
"No one will publish this anyway"
"Who do you think you ARE?"
and other similar discouragements attempted to cross my mind's barrier from Doubt to Truth. It was getting scary.
I glanced at my goofy list of Affirmations for some direction and glared at the first one:
"I spend hours every week being inspired by others' work."
But I HAD spent hours devouring others' work this week. I had read three novels! Don't the inspiring words of a storyteller count? Sheesh.
I realized, however, it wasn't words from which I needed to draw inspiration, as wonderful as those words might have been (and they were). I was working on visual art; I needed visual inspiration. Of course.
I grabbed a laundry basket and ran to my favorite part of my little house: The Chromatically-Arranged Bookcase.
I proceeded to pull books down with focused abandon, and filled my basket with books I knew held some sort of *something* for me visually, even if I couldn't really tell you why right then. I chose some for specific pages, others just for their covers.
I dumped the basket out on my table, and one-by-one, quickly thumbed through each book, taking notes on what I liked most about each one. Some books only commanded a line or two. Others, like my childhood favorites, embraced a whole page. One hour and twenty-four books later, I had filled six pages of my sketchbook with notes.
I opened each book to my favorite page, and and laid them all out so they could mingle. I stood over them, and noticed what visually unified the lot.
I looked at my pages of notes, and noticed what words came up most often.
Then, I made a list of what I'd noticed. I simplified the list, then wrote it in the back cover of my sketchbook. I had my boundaries right there, plain as anything, right on that back cover. My path was clear. Doubt cowered in the sight of Truth. The world started to make a little more sense again.
I sat down and Made Good Art for the rest of the day.
|AmyGaskin: @tvoti nope.|