Monday, April 12, 2010

Creative U-Turn

Julia Cameron, in The Artist's Way, talks about Creative U-Turns.

They are described as self-inflicted sabotage resulting from fear of failure or success. They are designed to get us off-track in order to protect us from....what? From whatever sorts of frightening things being creative can bring up. Debilitating perfectionism? Criticism? Life changes?

An artistic U-turn arrives on a sudden wave of indifference. We greet our newly minted product or our delightful process with 'Aw, what does it matter anyhow? It's just a start. Everybody else is so much further ahead...' In dealing with creative U-Turns, we must first of all extend to ourselves sympathy. Creativity is scary.

She goes on to describe examples of creative U-turns, and boy, do I recognize myself in there.

I didn't think I was scared to do something as simple as post a small painting every week. But clearly, I am. Scared enough to stop if I think I can't pull it off well enough. I think what is scaring me the most is how nothing is coming out the way I want it to. I think something in me actually thought if I just took the leap, and started to paint, I would begin creating marvelous pieces. Some sort of miracle would occur. People would say: My God! You just started? It looks exactly like Matt James! And he's been painting for years.
(Aside: PLEASE do NOT feel as if you need to send me all sort of messages/emails of encouragement following this post. I am not fishing for any sort of compliment, just needing to openly share where I'm at at this stage of the game. Insert smiley face.)

My creative U-Turns take the form of getting so wrapped up in envisioning the finished product and then when it takes longer than I'd like for it to manifest, the joy it used to bring me evaporates, leaving me with a sort of bleak resentment.

And then I bail.

But here's the other thing, the underneath thing that is making me slightly anxious about this project: I don't exactly HAVE any extra creative time lying around. Not even, as it turns out, on Sundays. In an attempt to not have Ella, my 4-year-old smudge her little fingers through my wet paint, I have been trying to find time alone to carry out my painting commitment. But the truth is, if I'm going to get any painting done, I'm going to have to do it with my kids around.

And so I see my reasons for sabotage. The first - fear - can't be fixed.

"We cannot escape fear." Susan Jeffers says in her book Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. "We can only transform it into a companion that accompanies us on all our existing adventures."

The other reason - my admission that if I am to get any painting done it needs to be done with my kids - is manageable. Might even turn out to be a beautiful process. Messy, but beautiful.

I'm going to need some painting aprons or something.

And so on I go...