Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Creativity: Letting Go of Not Being Good Enough

I have been feeling very creatively uninspired lately. I am sort of at this dead-end place where I need some new challenges. After giving it some thought, digging inside a bit and asking myself a lot of questions, I keep coming back to the realization that I miss the idea of illustration, something that once was a dream of mine, but I let go due to anxiety over not being good enough.

I know where this anxiety comes from. Someone big in my life while growing up had the unintentional habit of being creatively toxic. This person deemed himself an expert in certain areas of the arts and could be overbearing at times in his passion to set you right. (I say "you" instead of "me" as I wasn't the only one affected).

One of the reasons that the textile arts became so attractive to me was that this area was completely foreign to this person, (who despite his harmful methods, really only meant well) and thus I was left free to explore, and make mistakes without fear of judgement.

Now, this person has been gone for a decade, and I miss him terrible, because the good that this person did in my life far outweighed the bad, and I loved him dearly. However, creativity can be a fragile thing, and the fear of doing it "wrong" can be tough to overcome, especially when it was ingrained into you at such an early age. Even for someone like me, who believes strongly and has been a vocal voice in the right to freely express ones self creatively... I can preach it, but in truth I haven't always been able to take my own advice...not when it comes to certain areas.

But I am 50 now. Damn well old enough to do what I want to do without fear of judgement from myself, from others, or from long ago voices that live as ghosts inside my head. And I have no doubt that this person, bless his soul, looks down on me from Heaven and dearly wants me to allow myself to creatively explore any and everything that interests me, no strings attached.

I am going to start with simple basics. Pencil, pen, sketchbook. Which isn't as easy as it sounds... Sketchbooks are particularly frightening to me, as when I was 10 years old, I received a big beautiful sketchbook for Christmas, with wonderful assorted pencils. I was extremely excited seeing what lie beneath that wrapping paper. But before the paper had even fallen to the floor I was being instructed that I were to only draw serious drawings in such a beautiful sketchbook... no mistakes... no doodles. And even more frightening, I was told that My sketchbook would be checked regularly, to make sure that I was complying. You want to talk about fear! I didn't touch that sketchbook for YEARS! It lay in the bottom of my desk drawer, unopened, until I was sure the giver had forgotten about it. But I was still so frightened at the idea of ruining it, that I never did much in it, and have never been able to keep one, for very long, despite a deep desire to fill volumes.

Okay, so back to the present. As I said, I am going to start with simple basics. Pencil, pen, sketchbook. I have books full of poems and stories and fables to read, and will use any words in those volumes to help spark my imagination. They will be jumping off places. I hope that over the years to come I will finally fulfill that long held wish and fill volumes of sketchbooks with ideas and doodles and "mistakes".  Messes and successes. I hope to find ways of using those sketchbook illustrations as springboards to translate into textile and stitch, as I want to continue growing as a textile artist, as an artist, as a human being.

So what about you? Are you one of those lucky ones who is brave and fearless in all creative pursuits, or do you also have some buried dreams? Maybe you wanted to act, or sing, or dance but gave it up out of fear or other life matters? Anything you want to reconnect with? If so, I invite you to join me. With age comes wisdom, and the wisdom is this... Life is short. Lets not waste another minute being afraid.