Again, my thanks to brightonbipolar for nominating me for this challenge.
“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”
~ Ira Glass
I tried to find a graphic for this quote but every one of them wound up being rendered so small in the end result as to be unreadable, so instead of a pretty graphic today, you simply get the quote. It’s a long one, so I hope you’ll understand.
I’d like to think I’m a creative type. I like writing, pottery, calligraphy, weaving, and want to get into a lot of other art forms as well. But I run into a mental block with regard to my art that paralyzes me.
Because I haven’t devoted a lot of time to any of my art forms, none of them are really that good. And so rather than push on, as Ira Glass encourages in the quote above, I’ve been holding myself back.
“I’m not as talented as Person A is, so why bother trying.”
“Person B dislikes me, and is really good in that discipline, so my work will be unfairly critiqued, so why bother trying.”
“Person C wants to help me and encourage me, but all I’m going to do is disappoint them, so why bother trying.”
And just like that, my fears about my artistic ability become subject to my mental illnesses, and get blown out of proportion, and the end result is that I don’t actually produce any work.
This blog is the longest writing assignment and biggest artistic project that I’ve ever undertaken, and it’s nothing like I originally intended it to be. I wanted this blog to showcase my sense of humor, and only rarely am I even trying to be funny. I wanted this blog to highlight my struggles with self-esteem, yet I seem to be writing about everything but my self-esteem. I wanted this blog to be good and, well … that’s open to interpretation.
But the point is that I am keeping at it, this once. (If I had a dollar for every failed blog with which I’ve littered the Internet …) I’m not giving up, I’m seeing it through.
Which means that I can do the same with my other artistic endeavors.
Yes, my work is going to be fairly crap at the beginning. But so was the work of all those people who I look up to artistically. Not one of them was a prodigy. The difference between me and them is that they started earlier and kept at it longer.
I don’t read this Ira Glass quote as often as I should. I should have it on the wall in my home so I can read it every day. It would inspire me not only to not give up, but to keep at it, regardless of how bad the outcome might be.
I’m in that gap between where I want to be and where I am. And the only way of getting through that gap is to keep moving forward, by continuing to create.
Today I’m going to see what I can do to start down the road of creating art again. I’m limited on art supplies and funds right now, so I can’t guarantee that I’ll have a finished piece by the end of the day, but at least I can start the process – shopping around for pottery studios, maybe finding an old calligraphy pen someplace and practicing a hand for a little while – and have something to show for it by the end of the day.
And maybe, just maybe, that gap will be a little more narrow because of my efforts.