Sunday, October 2, 2011


I've spent the last few weeks focusing on the creative process, particularly those road blocks that waste too many hours on the internet, playing Angry Birds, or washing the pipes below the bathroom sink. If this sounds familiar, then perhaps you, too. may have read a lot about these stoppages. I've jotted down some thoughts about this, in preparation for the first of a monthly meeting with travel and food writer Donna Tabbert Long. Our hope is that our collaboration will help each of us through these blocks and, with any luck, improve not only the quantity of our work but the quality. Donna is thinking hard about moving into fiction. My goal is find a goal! My work is all over the place: realism, impressionism, abstract. I love it all, I want to do it all...but I spread myself thin and therefore I don't see the kind of growth that sticking with one voice would give me. The other part, of course, is fear. What if I were to work toward a specific goal and find myself wanting? What I'm hoping Donna and I can figure out (because she says she's all too familiar with it) is where this fear starts. I was thinking about this fear of failure the other day when I was watching a little girl learning to ride her skateboard. Arms flailing, knees at odd angles...her tumble was guaranteed. But up she got, her giggles audible to me on my front porch. The voyeur in me could feel her joy as she tried to master this scary but thrilling skill. Fear of failure? Not her! I added her photo to my studio's bulletin board in the hope it would inspire me to keep on trying. I was thinking about her again when I came across a quote by NPR's Ira Glass. It's long but it's worth the read. See what you think:

Nobody tells this to people who are beginners. I wish someone had told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple of years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase; they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are will in this phase, you gotta know it’s normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you finish one piece. It’s only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take a while. It’s normal to take a while. You just gotta fight your way through. --Ira Glass, posted by Arts Wisconsin 10/1/11

I'm pasting this note next to her photo: "It's gonna take a while. You just gotta fight your way through."

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