aqua fortis

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

To Create or Not To Create...

I am, once again, guilty of failing to blog as often as I would like. Actually, I did do some blogging this weekend, but it was all on my other blogs. I often neglect my Welsh blog, so I posted something there; and both the YA blogs were calling my name. But despite the writing-related blogging, some other creativity-related issues have been nagging at me. Fearing that this line of inquiry would be too much of a downer for the writing blogs, I saved it for aquafortis, which leaves very little territory uncharted. I prefer to post more encouraging things on the writing blogs, like conference musings or book reviews. Benign, happy thoughts.

Anyway, I can't seem to help coming back to a sort of perfectionism issue that I've always struggled with to some degree, both in my visual art and in my writing. I know (firsthand, and not in a good way) how difficult it is to even make a living in a creative career, let alone enjoy more visible forms of success. I see examples of work by successful or no-doubt-soon-to-be-successful writers and artists, and I feel left in the dust. It makes me unbearably depressed about my own work. I decided to take a closer look at this, and I realized that it's because it seems very apparent that in order to succeed in a creative profession you have to be exceptionally good at what you do. The assumption in my head--the thing the evil little voices keep telling me--is that if I can't come up with exceptional work that measures up to or surpasses the successful work I see around me, then I might as well not even bother. It's not worth trying, because my work won't ever be that good. And I'm not satisfied with the idea of my work merely being passable or mediocre.

So I suppose what it comes down to is fear of, and inability to accept, mediocrity. The other thing that's hard for me to accept is that improvement takes time if you're not some kind of prodigy. (To quote Homer Simpson, "30 seconds? But I want it now!") I don't like putting huge amounts of hours into a large project that is ultimately useless because it's "practice." This is a bad thing not to like if you're a creative person. But I am truly, in my soul, appalled at the idea of, say, writing a novel and having it be a "practice novel." Who wants to write a practice novel?

Anyway, I think I'm done ranting about all that now. This was brought on because over the past few days I encountered two examples of creative work--in media I normally enjoy using--done in a far more talented and polished manner than I could ever hope to achieve in a lifetime of practice. This does not bother me when I'm in, like, a museum, or reading my latest choice of library book. But somehow when it encroaches on the everyday world, I am crushed. I contemplate quitting forever and pursuing a more practical career like my dad always told me to.

But then again, who wants to base their life around doing what their parents tell them to?