When it comes to creativity, I’m not the first person to “hit the wall,” nor am I the first person to ponder the possible causes of and cures for these black holes of non-productivity. Nonetheless, here I go.
It was a beautiful early spring day when Barb and I shared a sunny table at a local Caribou. We talked about our kids...now grown; our marriages...now well seasoned; our losses...still being mourned. But mostly, we talked about what we want to be when we grow up and, more importantly, why we haven’t yet found it. (Bear in mind that each of us is well into our empty-nest years. Apparently aging does not come with a vacillation warranty.) Barb is a trained classical artist and a gifted, successful illustrator of children’s books. When it comes to art clients, I’m at the opposite end of that curve. Yet both of us feel like we’re at a watershed. Something needs to change...but what? And how do we get there? Yes, we’ve both done The Artist’s Way. We’ve attended numerous workshops and we’ve each read hundreds of pages about the creative process. But the bottom line is...we’re not content. We each want to turn some kind of creative corner, but neither of us knows where that corner is or even how to look for it. After four hours we still had no answers, but we did have some questions that we’ve been playing around with. For example: What blocks us? Answer: The need to produce. Where does that need come from? A sense that unless we’re selling, publishing, etc., what we do has no value. And from where does THAT come? Well, for me, it’s rooted in a casual statement that a friend made 35 years ago when I was selling my weavings: “How much an hour do you make?" (The answer would make a financial adviser shudder.)
Barb and I agreed that the challenge for each of us is to fight society’s lessons that unless we’re selling our work, our work has no value. We know that’s not true. But boy-howdy, it sure is hard to turn an acquired knowledge into an applied belief.