I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the creative process. It’s the elephant in my room. Here’s the thing: my dearest friend, pseudo-sister, and endlessly talented human, Victoria, has set to work recording an EP, and has asked me to create the corresponding album artwork. I’m endlessly excited for her and the beautiful music she will produce, and grateful for the opportunity to work with her on this project that I believe in and support wholly.
Also, I’m terrified.
It seems that, when confronted with an such an occasion, my creative self does the mature thing and hunches, quivering, in the impervious recesses of my being. Thanks, creative self.
Writing seems to come far more naturally for me than visual art, likely because the stakes are lower/non-existent. Who cares if my next blog post is weird, nonsensical, or just plain terrible? No one. Who cares if the same is true of the art I create for Victoria? Well, Victoria will, certainly. Evidently one solitary person to answer to is a bit too much for my anti-authoritarian artistchild to stomach.
Which prompts me to circle back to paragraph 1. In an effort to feign forward motion, I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about creativity instead of actually doing it. A close look at my habits of creation indicates that I usually tend to produce most while squatting on the kitchen tile, laptop screen ablaze, mug of tea in arm’s reach, and hair tucked hastily behind a turban. If I’m really committed I’ll even slather on a face mask. Evidently I feel most inspired when I strongly resemble Mommie Dearest. If this confuses you, that’s ok. Healthy even. It confuses me too.
I’ve learned not fight it, however. After all, as that Messiah of the Creative Process, Julia Cameron, insists, “Get out of the way. Let it work through you. Accumulate pages, not judgments.” In this light, I can’t help but wonder (yes I said that and I’m not even going to apologize for it because everyone knows you’re not a real writer unless you occasionally plagiarize Carrie Bradshaw), is creation largely just about showing up? About being brave enough to show up?
Perhaps, but ‘showing up’ to create isn’t as benign a behavior as the phrase might imply. In my case, it tends to more accurately parallel a violent and ill-prepared-for birthing process (cue righteous indignation from anyone who’s ever actually birthed a human child). In The Author to Her Book, Anne Bradstreet addresses her work as her own child. And admittedly, each time I produce something there lingers a notion that I’m nudging a helpless, fledgling babe out into the vast, relentless world. Except my baby is made of things like questionable vocabulary choices, aggressive & incessant sarcasm, and over-sharing, instead of bone and plasma and fingernails and stuff. And if, for whatever reason, you prefer a metaphor that’s less shoddy A & P, more… logical, then find here a comparison of the creative process to an arduous pie-making endeavor by my freshly-minted favorite blogger. I promise fingernails aren’t mentioned once.
If I had to create a thesis statement for this post, it would read something like this: I have to make a baby and give it to my best friend. Did you follow me through this? If not, congratulations, you’re a normal human. If so, I regret to inform you that you’re grievously insane like me. Friends, it seems as though this elephant is not only in my room, but also sitting squarely on my face. And elephants are heavy. Insight?
Finally… to those of you whom I lured here on the apparently false pretense that this is a travel blog, I apologize. I guess it isn’t.