Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Good Reads: Of Cats and Creativity and Fear

So, a few weeks past I was "cat sitting" for a friend. I was more like house-sitting though, because otherwise these cats otherwise become neurotic. (Neurotic like hiding poo in the corners of the master bedroom. Three separate piles.) I've always liked my friend's house, and she has a full studio in her basement that I was able to use for the week, so I went in telling myself that it would be a mini vacation. "Mini" because I still had go to work during the day.

Isn't she cute? ...and in my chair.
 I was more productive at her house than I have been at home in the last 3 months combined. (It's sad, but I've been out of focus lately.) A change of location really can change your attitude, your rhythm, your actions! It also helps when the borrowed studio is plastered with witty sayings, encouraging notes from friends, and clips of philosophy on creativity. Also pictures of all sorts of weird things. And not just the studio-- you can find these notes all around the house. What I've realized during this stay is that I need a better way to sustain my creativity and keep it fun. Too often I find myself wanting to escape from and not to creative outlets. It's a bit of a problem when you're trying to be a jewelry maker for a living. I bet a lot of you have similar issues, regardless of your careers.

With that in mind, I thought I'd share this site with you:  I ran across this some weeks ago and I absolutely love it. The author, Stephen McCranie, explains it's purpose best himself:
"I started this project to encourage a dialogue between artists and creative types like myself [he's a cartoonist] about what the ideal creator looks like. I feel like sometimes we are myopically focused on perfecting our craft, and forget to build a healthy lifestyle to sustain ourselves and our creativity. This blog explores not just process, but principles."

Using the comic as his medium, Stephen is able to write incredibly clever, often humorous, and surprisingly deep discussions of what it means to be a creative person. I agree whole-heartedly when he says that no one teaches us how to be artists, they only teach how to make art, but the lifestyle is very, very, very important. And I think any type of person can glean something useful from him. His blog is inspiring and uplifting. This is where I go for a kick in the pants when I need some help figuring out why I'm stuck in life. Often I'm stuck because I run into my own fear and judgment. It feels like brick wall in the gut.

I need to get over myself, and that involves dealing with fear. Do you tackle fear, try to kill it, ignore it, deny its very existence? If you've tried this, you know it's not working. You are supposed to befriend fear. ("What? Woman, are you insane?" you may ask. Not this time around, I'm not. Stephen agrees with me.)

"Be Friends with Failure" is one of my favorite reads from Doodle Alley. I think I feel a kindred spirit in the freaky kid named Failure. We had the same problem at the lunch table growing up. See?

Good points such as: "Cool starry underwear, Failure!" He's free to be himself because, well, it can't get any worse than failure; so if you keep trying, something's bound to change for the better.  If you don't try, if you let the brick wall of fear knock the wind out of you and you decide not to try to take another breath, you're done. Toast. Swimming with the fishes. And that would suck. So don't do that. Go make friends with Failure, even though you think he might have some dark magical powers to curse you. If such a scary dude is your friend, nothing else will scare you :)

Except maybe the guys on the wall of my studio.

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