It is almost 2016! This year I'm writing a bi-monthly Tiny Letter about building creative work and the first one will be New Years-themed, sent out on Monday. Although a lot of my artistic work is around the theme of connection, I'm not actually great at...connecting. But I write a good letter! I look forward to sharing more that way. You can sign up for these letters over here, and unsubscribe any time your little heart pleases.
And speaking of little hearts:
My heart and brains are focused on February's piece. It opens 6 weeks away from tomorrow (*gulp*). I've done this sort of thing enough to rest assured that everything will come together, and to also know that it is bound to be messy and unpredictable, and maybe even a little bit traumatic. Creative birth: just like human birth!
Right now I'm reading Elizabeth Gilbert's Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, and though I have some beef with it - Gilbert is at times a bit cute and conclusive for my taste- I have to agree with her perspective that making things is a dance between our craft and our ability to tame/use/work with our minds (specifically our demons) as we move through the creative process. For instance, last week I felt completely overwhelmed by the bottomless pit of process. As soon as I'd figure one thing out, a million other questions and challenges arose. And this week I'm feeling entirely differently. More like, thank goodness this is so hard; it is so satisfying that it is so hard! The mental ping pong is real, and knowing how to work through it as opposed to letting it stop you is everything.
And creating is such a messy and unpredictable process, right down to planning and funding. A couple weeks ago I found out that I didn't receive a grant I applied for (the second 'no' within a few months), and went instantly to a place of feeling broke and disorganized and like my pants were stuck around my ankles leaving my ass in public view. I was surprised at how vulnerable it felt to not have my ducks properly in a row. And when my baby stopped sleeping for a solid 2 1/2 weeks, it somehow added insult to injury- or at least brain exhaustion. Life, like making, is also unpredictable.
So here we are: we work with what we have, and sometimes it ends up being better than we originally planned. I'm trying to waste less energy on feeling self-conscious about not having perfect control over life. As referenced in this great piece of writing, I want to be brave enough to talk openly about the messy parts of making. It's a lot more comfortable to keep it away from public view, but then it just kind of perpetuates this idea that there shouldn't be a mess, and I don't think anyone creates their best work when they're working hard to keep things tidy.
I was deeply inspired by the vulnerability of this Creative Mornings Minneapolis talk I attended with Jamie Millard & Meghan Murphy, co-leaders of Pollen Midwest. They shared really personal parts of their lives with the audience, and talked about how they use these raw moments to fuel more honest creative work. It was strangely novel to be reminded that no one has a neat and perfectly put together life. I was grateful to remember that this humanity is what adds a richness to what we make if we allow it to be seen.
It is messy; it is unpredictable; it is satisfying.
Happy New Year.