Public and Private Creativity

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Last weekend I finished reading Kim Werker’s book ‘Make It Mighty Ugly’.

I love this book.  I love you, Kim, for writing this book.

There are a load of reasons why I love Kim’s book.  For me, the main reason–she is clearly a kindred spirit when it comes to creativity.

On page 116 she describes an aspect of her creative process.  This is the first time, since I began reading creativity books, someone has described a pattern that is dominant in my creative process.

As a writer and artist, I cycle between two creative states.  I work full on, taking everything in, being connected, being public with what I am doing thinking making—art shows, blog, social media, leading workshops.  Then I go dark.  I retreat to my studio, shut the door, and continue making but in private.  I do not want to see, talk, or interact with anyone.  Leave me alone.  In this creative state, I bite.

I have always created in this way, always shifted from one state to the other.

I used to think because I wasn’t entirely one state or the other, there was something wrong with me.  I thought I was being wishy-washy and inconsistent, possibly unreliable.  Isn’t that one of the myths, artists are unreliable?

It took me years to understand this is my creative process.

My creativity has and needs both my public and private states of making.  These states are not opposites.  They are partners.  Each feeds, supports, and inspires the other.

Maybe this is obvious to you, but for some reason I couldn’t see it.  I had to learn by doing, understand through experiencing, that this pattern of creating is my normal.  I learned there is not something wrong with me.  This is the way I operate.

The other thing I learned from accepting my pattern of creating is there is no single creative process.  There are as many processes as there are people.  Each of us has a unique way of making what we make.  The creative process is as wildly creative as creativity itself.

_____________________

In this post:

Kim Werker, book, ‘Make It Might Ugly:  Exercises and Advice for Getting Creative Even When It Ain’t Pretty’, Sasquatch Books, 2014.  http://www.kimwerker.com/  Thank you, Kim, for sharing your book and your creativity.

 

Embracing My Inner Teenager (Tantrum Part 2)

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What Gives Me Joy Nov 17 2016 (maps)

The wabi sabi human is here, and she is bored.

I’ve shifted from my inner two-year-old’s tantrum (last week), to my inner teenager’s boredom.

I am bored.  I know these words and this feeling.  I used to be here a lot when I was a teenager and figuring out my life.

I’ve not felt bored for a very long time.  I’ve been busy creating word and image and mostly happy about it.  I’ve had perfect successes and perfect failures.  I’ve learned and grown as a creator.

And then, Bang!  I’m in a week-long tantrum.  And then, Pop!  My two-year-old morphs into a teenager who keeps saying ‘I am bored.’

Boredom is interesting.  That sounds like an oxymoron (love that word), but it isn’t.  I am curious about this feeling of boredom.

What I am thinking:

  1. Boredom and my previous tantrum are really the same thing.
  2. What am I bored with?  And why?
  3. This boredom is an aspect of my creative process and a piece of my creativity.
  4. My morning pages show me I am tired of pushing myself.

I have four puzzle pieces to play with, and here is the picture they are making.  I’ve realized the pushing is towards intentions that are not completely aligned with what I love and how I create.  It’s taking me out of alignment with my heart (where my best work comes from) and my process (how my best work grows and completes itself).

This is Big.  If I had not gone into tantrum and boredom, I wouldn’t have slowed down enough to see this.

Continue reading “Embracing My Inner Teenager (Tantrum Part 2)”

Embracing My Inner Tantrum

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‘When I Took It All Apart, There Was Nothing Left’

It’s Thursday.  Blog writing day.  I want to be all sunny today, writing lovely positive words.

Nope.  My inner two-year-old took over on Monday and is having an extended tantrum.

‘No’ is my word right now.  No, I don’t want to work on my book.  No, I don’t want to draw.  No, I don’t want to read anything enlightening.  No, no, no, and no.

The funny thing is I am totally okay with writing my morning pages.  Usually these are what I resist doing.  Not this week.  My inner two-year-old is taking great delight in having permission to whine, complain, be ratty and growly as much as she pleases in the morning pages.

In fact I have given myself full permission to be as ornery as I want for as long as I want.  I have decided to embrace my inner tantrumy-self.

Usually I try to push my bad attitudes away.  Cure them somehow.  Cheer myself up.  Force myself to be upbeat.

But halfway through Tuesday’s morning pages I write, ‘I am tired of pushing myself.’  Six words.  They stop me in my tracks.  I sit there, pen and mind stilled.  I say out loud, ‘Oh.’

I can feel the truth of this.  I want to love myself exactly as I am.  Always pushing and always reaching doesn’t let me be settled with who I am right now.  Instead, it keeps saying ‘not good enough’.

I’m tired of being not good enough.

I need to love myself now.  My inner two-year-old needs love and hugs.  I need to be loved for who I am, however I am, always.  No exceptions.  Love myself whether I am having a tantrum like now, or whether I am feeling clear and light and joyful.

Love all my moods.  Love all my flaws.  Love all my talents.  Love all my beauties.  Love the whole of me that makes me human.  Love me, Cat, the wabi sabi human.

This says I am good enough now.  This says I love myself now and I am lovable now.  This says I am perfectly imperfect.

I can handle being a wabi sabi human.

 

Here Is Joy

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More Snow Coming.

Here is joy.

New snow layering the bare branches of the aspens.

Crunchy toast with peanut butter and homemade raspberry jam.

Cold, clear water to drink.

Lovely Lady, our upstairs-neighbours’ rescue dog, looking in the window of our french doors, hoping for treats.

Warm socks.

Albums on my ipod.  ‘Autumn’ and ‘Winter Into Spring’ by George Winston.  Music that moves and flows and leaves beauty in its wake.

Writing valentines, to deliver by hand and to drop in the mail.

Time and space to play with pen and paper and words.

A nap after lunch.

_____________________________

In this post:

Musician George Winston.  His piano music paints pictures for me each time I listen.  My favourite albums–‘Autumn’, ‘Winter Into Spring’, and ‘December’.  ‘December’ contains a piece titled ‘Minstrels’ that haunts my heart every time I hear it.  http://www.georgewinston.com/recordings/

My Love Affair With Books

 

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‘Containers For The Soul’ by Cat Fink

I have a long love affair with books.  With stories.  With words.  Longer even than my love affair with drawing, but only by a year or two.

My husband knows about this affair.  How can he not?  He helped me pack 55 boxes of books last time we moved.  The back wall of our suite is all shelves of books, two rows deep.  I’ve probably added three more boxes since we moved in two years ago.  That makes the current total 58.

This love affair, in other eyes, looks like an obsession.  Or maybe a difficulty with hoarding.

Only someone who does not love books would think that.

My parents read to me when I was two years old.  A story before bedtime.  Thus begins the love affair and my book collection.

Continue reading “My Love Affair With Books”

I Am A Contrary

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What Gives Me Joy Nov 23 2016 (connection)

Tomorrow is the US Presidential Inauguration.  I am having a hard time believing that Donald Trump is becoming the US President, that he was voted in.  And yet, it is so.  What concerns me most?  The divisive way he sees and talks gives others permission to do the same, to pit group against group, to use anger and hatred as the path to what they desire.

I say to this–I Am A Contrary!

I am a contrary.  Much of the society and material world I live in tries to tell me all is divided, labelled, specified, separate.  It tries to say I am separate from you, from the water I drink, from Raven chuckling in the fir outside my window, from the ground I walk on, from the smooth grey stone I hold in my hand.

Not so.  I see, I know, I feel all life, this world, everything as one whole being, one energy, constantly connected, breathing one breath, all flow.

I am a contrary.  The material world tries to teach me to see only polarities, black and white, either-or.

But I see pattern, illumination, both-and.  I see richness and range.  As a child growing up and as an adult living in an either-or world, I remain knowing I am the stars, the sky, the earth water wind, the grey stone, Raven, the fir tree.  I am you.  I am and we are, both-and.

I am glad I am a contrary.  Because of this, I know all is one.  I get to see the one whole beauty underneath all of the pieces of this divided material world.  I get to see the beauty and the heart living within each person I meet.

I get to see the hearts each of us carries.  I don’t just mean the unique shining heart each of us is.  I mean every one of us is covered with hearts, all sizes and every colour, one pinned onto us by each person who loves us.  We move through life covered, carried, loved, connected by all these hearts.

Continue reading “I Am A Contrary”

Thursday’s Rant – Just Let Me Create!

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What Gives Me Joy Nov 10 2016 (flowers)

It is blazing sun outside my studio window today.  The thermometer says -10 Celsius.  Even with the brilliant sunlight, I do not go out without doing up my coat all the way to my chin, and adding hat and mittens and snow boots.

Contrast and preparation.  Like the weather, that’s what is happening in my studio today.

Here is the contrast.  I want to be playing with my book draft, but there are other needs today.  What I call ‘administration’.  I am frustrated.  I want to be doing one thing, and need to be doing another.  Ugh.  Contrast.

And here is the preparation.  I have to do the administration in order to smooth the path for my writing and drawing to get out into the world to be shared.

The preparation part of my creative life is the time and effort spent on meetings, questions and answers, contracts, proposals, emails and phone calls.  I try to like this part but, honestly, today I don’t.  Even though these things are a necessary part of the path, I’d rather be writing or drawing.  Today the administration feels like it is in my way and it’s pissing me off.

I have tried to readjust my attitude.  My adjustment dial appears to be momentarily stuck.

I know this would be easier if I wasn’t so growly today.

How do I solve this?

I write my morning pages, asking myself this question.  I don’t get an answer.  Rats.  Now I’m writing my blog post, asking again, hoping for a solution and a settling of my pissed-off-ness.  Nope, not yet.

Continue reading “Thursday’s Rant – Just Let Me Create!”

Getting My Second Draft Right, or Not

 

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What Gives Me Joy Nov 9 2016 (books)

All the intense, warp speed creating I did through November was fun and fulfilling, and it did me in.  I needed a rest.  So I rested.

Now I’m back.  My well of inspiration is full again, to the brim and bubbling over.  (Watch out.  You might get splashed!)  I am itching to get creating again.  Writing stuff.  Drawing stuff.  Making stuff.

I am in a New Year.  Possibilities abound.

Yesterday I made myself a list, ‘Stuff I’m Doing’, and posted it beside my studio work table.  I used sheets of paper from my sketchbook and my set of fifty Crayola felt pens.  My list covers the first six months of this year, and has lots of room for additions, alterations, and addendums.  Even my lists are drafts.

At the top of the list is the second draft of my book.  I have been struggling with this for more than a year.  The main problem—no clarity on how my book needs to be structured.

Structure did not matter while writing the first draft.  Now it does, and it has had me baffled.

Not anymore.

I was thinking of my book structure as written in stone.  I have to get it right.  Totally scared myself, saying I have to get it right.  Stopped me for all of last year.  That is sad.

Actually, I don’t have to get it right.  I have to get it down on the page.  This is exactly what I tell myself when I am writing content.  I don’t have to get it right.  Just get the words down and then I can change them.

I am now treating my book structure like I treat my content.  It’s a draft, a work in progress that is allowed to shift to meet the needs of the book as I create it.

What a relief!  This feels so much better.  I have space to play with my book’s structure.  Get it sort of right.  Get it wrong.  Get it eventually right.

Why didn’t I think of this earlier?  Probably because I have never moved past first draft in a piece of book-length writing.  No experience at this.  A total newbie.

So here I am.  A New Year.  New ideas and space to play.  I am closing my first week of January 2017 by meeting with two of my artist-writer friends.  Tomorrow we are having lunch together.  We’ve promised to bring writing (two of us) and paintings (one of us) to share and receive help.  The best way of all to begin my year.  Sharing creativity with friends.

Happy New Year, All!  Let us give ourselves full permission to play, and space to create what we love, through love, all year long.

Now go make something.

________________________

Thank you, Meg Ward, for your listening ear and sage advice in getting me started again on my second draft.  Meg has an info page at http://www.shareyourbigidea.com/