Thursday, November 03, 2005
the other side of creativity
For me, creative expression is the wind beneath my sails. It's what I do, how I feel good, how I express me. This comes through writing, sculpting or painting, but I have tested the waters shallowly in many mediums-- made a few quilts, sewed, done some macrame, tole painting. My creative expression shows up in my home, garden and lifestyle choices. When I explain who I am, being creative is high on the list.
Lately I haven't done much sculpting but these are some of my clay sculptures. Most set in the attic as I have not been successful in selling them, but then I haven't put the effort into selling that I did into creating. I feel a mix of emotions about them and my other work-- a stack of paintings are up in that attic as well as 11 completed manuscripts on my hard drive (ranging from 85,000 to 140,000 words). I feel proud of what I have done-- finished works, skills learned-- but not so proud that I haven't worked harder to get them out into the world. I have done a lot of things in my years but marketing well is not one of them. It feels like a mix of failure and achievement when I think on my works. Like I let them down.
I don't have one clear reason for why I have not been better at doing what I see as the other part of creating. Some is not fitting the market. I can say that about the books at the time they were rejected-- those that ever got submitted.
When we hope to trade our artistic work for someone else's dollars, we have to meet their needs. I don't blame the market when what I have done didn't succeed in that. But that's only part of it. Part of it is I haven't tried hard enough and this goes back to another part of creativity. We create it and then we put it out for the world to judge through sales, showings or even contests. These paintings, manuscripts and sculptures are pieces of me. They are my babies and when someone else looks at them and says pedestrian work, not enough interest to them, it's like they are saying it about me.
An artist who has the whole package believes in their work, believes enough to get out there and send it again and again to publishers or to galleries. Maybe I'm not a true enough artist or maybe it goes back to the recent reading I received from the medium where she saw the negative patterns in my life. Number one was I didn't trust enough, that I felt I would lose whatever I gained; and number two was I didn't have enough belief in myself or my abilities. I would guess that's true of a lot of us and the way past it is to take the risks and keep taking them until the barrier is broken-- but the reason we don't goes back to the patterns. Sometimes not believing in my work is not a mistake. I mean it's not wise to kid myself on what I'm doing. I am not as gifted a painter as my friend at Golden Acorn. I don't know if I never quite developed the craft side of painting or just don't have the gifts, but it doesn't stop me from enjoying painting. It does cause me to often not show it to others. What ends up on the canvas has not yet been what I had seen in my mind.
When I got online for the first time some years back, I learned how many people can write well. It was an eye-opener. The main difference between those who have published books and those who have not is at least to a degree marketing skills. I intellectually know the process, have read how-to books, talked to agents, other writers, but it is one thing to know what you should do and another to face your baby (and creative work is your baby) being rejected yet again. Wait a minute. Those characters were good. Didn't you laugh at that part? What was not to like? Sometimes an editor says you can change this or that and we'll consider again except either you can't do it or it goes against your sense of what the work was supposed to be about-- creative integrity vs marketing reality.
I am working on getting past these blocks. My problem has not been in having ideas or finishing my projects. Or maybe it is. Is it really finished stacked in a dusty, cobwebbed attic or will it only be finished when it has moved to someone else's hands?