Persistence Is Fertile
Today I arrived at the studio and felt like I’d hit a wall. I didn’t know how I was going to proceed with the new series.
I was brutally uninspired.
Which flabbergasted me because I’ve been having a crackin’ good time in the studio lately, highly motivated, productive and busting out work that I’m super happy with.
Not today. Today my flow hit a road bump.
It happens. I realize that every tide has its flow and ebb. It can’t be all non-stop unicorns and rainbow sparkles. I’m OK with that – except for one thing. It is during these times of pause when the Resistance Crew (who live in my head, right next door to the Doubt Sisters) starts to clamor.
Today, one of the crew whispered, “You’ve made your creating quota for the week, you don’t HAVE to show up for your practice today.”
Another member of the crew wanted to hop a train to the MoMA and spend a hot afternoon looking at cool art.
An additional crew member pretended to cough, though I clearly heard the word, “Shopping.”
Under it all there was yet another small voice that managed to cut through the noise. It asked me to swaddle my colicky resistance in a BabyBjörn and settle down to work. This other voice – the Muse, I suspect – invited me to meet it halfway. So I did.
I sat down to take care of some hand finishing on a piece. While I was stitching a few ideas of how to progress on another work-in-progress surfaced. And then, while I was digging around looking for something to use as nipples for Bird Girl (true story) I came across items that sparked an idea for my next figure.
Searching through my hoard cache I found perfectly-sized handcuffs, locks, zip ties, and some mystery hardware that, in my head, I transformed into a mighty fine set of manacles. BAM! A sideshow/curiosity carnival NEEDS an escape artist. BOP! And, of course, I’m going to have to create a miniature straight jacket for the piece. BOOM!
BAM! BOP! BOOM! Inspiration restored.
Today I was gently reminded to show up. I know I’ve written on this topic before but it bears repeating:
Be present to your practice, whatever that happens to mean for you, and be open to play. Listen to the small voice. Sit down. Pick something up. Commit to beginning. Even if you have no clue as to what that beginning looks like.
Then – and this is very important – be open to the fact that what happens next can go either way.
Whether you work for an employer or whether you are self-employed, everyone has shit days at work. Hold this thought in the back of your mind – do not cling to the outcome of what you will produce. It might be good – heck, it might even be great – but it could also be bloody awful. Understand this. Then, with the knowledge that it could end in disappointment, decide to show up anyhow.
I’ve had my share of days where I’ve plugged along, putting in my time on something I’ll most likely end up throwing away the next day and gone home feeling terribly unsatisfied, wishing I had listened to the Resistance Crew.
I’ve also had days where I let myself be swayed by the crew and walked out on my practice. When this happens I almost always feel worse than if I had stuck it out and made unsatisfactory art.
Today I ignored the crew, showed up open to play, and received some big, big love from the Muse.
Truly, it doesn’t get any better than this.
Yes, the amount of distraction we face in getting down to work can be unbelievable. Sometimes I will change location when thinking through a creative project and sit in Starbucks to put it in writing. This can also be a dangerous distraction. i.e. the other day I said hello to someone I knew while sitting in Starbucks, and they came back with, “not working today?”
Oh, Polly, that’s a great story. We’re always working as artists, even if it doesn’t look like it 😉 I love the idea of changing location to shake things up a little – thanks for sharing!
This is lovely, Jody, and so true. There’s nothing better than coming through a horrible time into a new level. There are also many days when I just have to tell myself, “It’s called work, and sometimes that’s all it is.”
Nicky once wrote a blog post called “Be the Wind: What to Do When Things Aren’t Working.” An excerpt:
“I’m no sailor but I know that when you’re on the open seas and using the wind as your driving force, the problem isn’t going into a headwind – even energy going opposite to your desired trajectory can be channeled in a useful way. The problem is when there is no wind, no motion…. You can’t leverage stagnation, but a gust in any direction can help you discover what you’ve been looking for all along.”
Anne, yup, it’s called artwork for a reason 😉
Thank you for your comment and for sharing Nicky’s excerpt. Beautiful connection by Nicky – I will have to look up the post so I can read the article in its entirety!
Kudos to Marjorie for suggesting the perfect title for this post <3!