Creative Storms

Recently I saw a link to Elizabeth Gilbert, Author of Eat, Pray, Love, speaking about the creative process. Her words were inspiring to me as I am finding myself yet again, amidst a creative storm. In the last three years since I decided to earn a living off of my work I have found that the peaks of the mountains are ever so high while the valleys torment me in a way that I feel I should purge myself of my work altogether.
I have spoken with other artists who have had these same feelings. The sense that we can accomplish anything, the heightened exhilaration that comes with success only to be followed by the deepest internal anguish that we will never fulfill our personal vision. This is a battle as true as any other we face in life and one we must find a way to combat in an effort to save our sanity.
I have found over the years that I have gotten better at exposing my creative demons and yet still they come marching towards me as real as any realized fear. They creep up and grip me in a way that I feel unable to work and throttled in a creative slump of failure. I have never quite been able to put these feelings or experiences into words the way Elizabeth Gilbert has and her speech helped me to find a way to make sense of these demons and to realize that any who dares to endeavor on a creative path will find them lurking in the back hallways of their minds. I think I can label them more aptly than demons however, they are really my fears. Deeply placed fears about my abilities to overcome my shortcomings as an artist and achieve something greater than myself. My reaction to the demons has been one that may make little sense to others but I find myself hurdling my body right back at them and chasing down this deepest fear so I can square off with it face to face. I will not be cast aside by my fears and I will not allow these internal threats of failure immobile me.

When the demons beckon out at me I have found that working on production components has been a great way to defeat the build up of negative energy. I know that if I continue trying to build something great that the fears and nasty words in my head will gain strength so I discourage them by setting aside new ideas and working on items my hands know rhythmically by heart. Hammering a bangle, patterning metal, cutting lengths for earrings...... these things are mundane and do not require my third eye.

But why is it that some of us choose a path riddled with demons and ghosts? Why do we find that we must always outdo ourselves and why does the internal mental balance shift so darkly? I cannot quite answer this except to say that for many of us there is no choice in whether or not we will create.... it is what we do. And yes, like all things, we are looking for the yes in life.... yes, the work is good, yes, you have achieved adoration, yes, you are worthy....... There is truth to the fact that many of us may or may not find this self worth among others or that even more dangerous we may find then lose the public's attention, the academic's nod, or the publisher's praise..... And what do we do after? Elizabeth Gilbert renews the roots by insisting we show up anyway...... we do our job anyway.

Next time the creative demons fill my head I will attempt to seek them out apart from myself as individuals and perhaps realize them for who they are..... Separate and within me, they are my fears embedded and my alternate self who insists I am mad to attempt such a journey, they are the cynics and the thief’s, and within them is not only the demon I fear but the dreamer I seek as well. It comes from the same place. They are not one-dimensional as I most certainly am not..... They are the crowd in my head that applauds, the recognition of a job well done, and the fuel to continue climbing ever upwards....


alisa said...

are you talking about her TED talk? i have watched that a few times. i love that she can put all my crazy thoughts into words. i saw her speak a year ago. i laughed and cried for over an hour. mostly at the same time. (see crazy remark above.)

Delias Thompson said...

Yes, the TED talk.... it's just amazing and so personal. I found myself going, yes, yes, YES!!!!