Just when you think flowers are FINALLY going to start popping up,
you wake up and it's -8.
Regardless of the never ending ice, I am surprised but delighted to feel a tiny burst of creative energy coming back!
I had stopped working on my book last month,
Paralyzed at 35 000 words.
I had nothing left to say.
Who was I to write about creativity?
I have no degree to stand on, no platform to use as leverage, no huge financial success to report.
All those stories that had been kept at bay for months all popped up again.
What really happened is that I stopped writing because I pulled my head out of the isolation chamber and came back to IG after a 3 month hiatus.
I saw all the more qualified writers getting published and rolling around in piles of money, being served ice cream by man slaves equally employed assistants, without an inch of housework in sight, and awesome clothes to boot.
Um, it all got to me in a real way.
If anything is going to stop you dead in your tracks, trust me, it's going to be IG.
Do your creative work in an air tight vacuum.
(that’s for another letter)
When I can recover from the dread and start looking at my fear and resistance (fun work, right?)...
I find my old familiar stories:
I'm being laughed at by a class of academic cynics.
People who view my work (they don't call it 'work'- they call it poorly crafted teenage complaineries.) as self-congratulatory garbage.
In particular, I’m in a McGill professor’s office on the 4th floor. It feels like a utility closet. Dark and grey.
In front of me is a terrifyingly intelligent but gaunt Italian man. Of course he's wearing a houndstooth jacket.
I can see his face as he reads my pages, over it washes a look of scorn and disgust:
This doesn't make any sense,
This is poorly structured,
This has no central argument
Who even gave you permission to write anyways...
This is a waste of my time.
And wait for it.... (the one that pierces through my heart)
You are not very smart,
(p.s he never said those words,
I extrapolated them, because ..... me)
This fear is so strong that I can feel it grow cold in my body.
Embarrassed, humiliated that I let myself believe that I could write in the first place
Cue WHO AM I TO WRITE?
I immediately close the computer and resentfully retire to my sink full of dishes.
Domesticity has the uncanny ability to dull any of my ambitions.
We all have our fears, and yours can seem as ridiculous as mine.
But in the moment, you and I both know it feels real.
There is no creative work that shields you from this pain.
It is part of the creative cycle.
You are required to sit in those fears, in order to acquire the privilege of producing creative work.
Apparently it doesn’t get easier either.
There is some good news...
After sitting in that filth, you start to recognize the pattern.
Yes, there IS a pattern.
And after Fire Hydrant of Hot Fear (FHHF)
comes the Blank slate, the beginner’s mind.
Here you are sad, but can see the light. You are tired. So tired.
Then, after weeks (months?) you start seeing ideas out in the world. Things you could get excited about. You start getting curious again.
You eventually reel an idea in and you get to work.
What happens next is usually unparalleled productivity, hindered a few glimpses of FHHF,
But you have the end in mind, so it's ok.
It all culminates in the release of your work, you press send, you record, you hang your show.. whatever it is... you DID IT!
There is a brief but awesome moment of respite, where you believe in beauty again, you have faith in the world and you love everything + everyone.
A few hours, ok .. days later,
you are back down in dread, fear and doubt that you’ll never have another good idea.
You're back to FHHF.
It’s like you KNOW, you FORGET, you RE-MEMBER you forget again.
Over and over again I travel that circular path.
We do not create from the seat of expertise, but rather from a deep need.
Almost an urgency.
We create to enact the change we want to see.
Real honest work comes from being able to call out WHAT you want to do :
- I want to provide experiences of beauty to ease daily human suffering.
- I want to encourage us all to see the awe and wonder of our natural world
- I want to scream from the rooftops :
YOU ARE CREATIVE!!
IN THE CORNER!
GO BE CURIOUS!
Make terrible jewelry, or pottery, or music or anything that gets you out of your head and into your heart. Is it organizing sock drawers? GREAT! Go do that. It doens't need to be your job, but just some place you can lose yourself in.
At the core of our human design, we are THE creative species.
If we are going to fix this mess of a world we’ve made, it’s going to be from the place of creativity.
I have never believed in anything so strongly.
If we show up to each other from our creative places, we can move the world into action.
I want you me to stop asking ‘Who am I” and replace it with ‘Why Not Me’
I am 100% afraid of judgement
I am 100% afraid of failure
I am 100% afraid of starting over, again.
But today I can hold all those fears
Because this Love Letter is more important
Than what some academic man has to say
about my Thomas Pynchon essay.
If you're in the FHHF, you are going to get out of it.
DO NOT PANIC.