THE AWKWARDNESS OF SQUELCH-RIPPING YOUR BARE THIGH from a leather seat in summer doesn’t lose its moxie when used as a metaphor for my life, at present.
I have long known that I was put on this earth to create beautiful things and tell stories that matter. Full stop.
Well, partial stop. There is this other thing called adulting. [Insert something about bootstrap pulling and paying for my own health insurance here.] But who says that creative professions and adulting are mutually exclusive life trajectories? Well, except for our teachers. And the government. And well-meaning parents. And probably Pope Francis.
So, what is awkward about finally marrying my outward-facing grown up life and my largely hidden creative world? I’m so glad you asked. Frankly, everything. For as long as it has been since they’ve actually seen each other regularly, it might as well be an arranged marriage.
You should also know that I know that you know that it’s 2017. My shiny, idea-rich penny of a blog is slated to plunk tacitly into the overcrowded fountain of self-expression. Nevertheless, here I am, equal parts resolved and terrified. But for the first time in a decade, 100% present in my own life.
In circumstances such as these, I channel Sam Seaborn’s (West Wing) gentle words to C.J. Cregg during her U.S. Census debacle…
“Okay, let’s…I tell you what. Let’s forget the fact that you’re coming a little late to the party and embrace the fact that you showed up at all.”
Thank you, Sam. Showing up as just myself is Johnny-Depp-singing-Sondheim scary, and your rushed whisper tones provide the glass half full of courage I need in this moment.
By all conventional standards, I am too old (early 30’s), neurotic, and fat to be an aspiring fine and performing artist. Luckily, I don’t have standards.
This space is designed to chart my journey through the 100-Acre Woods of uncertainty to the sun-dappled shores of unpretentious creative living. This is your open invitation to come along for the ride and the permission, if you need it, to show up to your own life and original calling.
I recommend packing a protein bar and your big girl panties. This is bound to get real. Reeeealllll real.
Right. Let’s do this. Down from 22, here are the 7 reasons I shouldn’t start a creative blog (Part 1).
1. I WILL NEED TO SPEND LESS TIME INSTAGRAMMING MY CATS
We adopted two rescue kittens that came with big personalities and a cuddling problem. I, in turn, developed an Instagramming cuddling kittens problem. #imean
The usual suspects of getting ‘performance fit’ and blogging – rehearsing, content creation, cuppa breaks, vocal warm-ups, studying, editing, pirouette practice in the kitchen, re-editing (the OCD struggle is rrrreal), etc. — will entirely eclipse the tiny remnant of free time I have left, which I previously reserved for monitoring #catsofinstagram posts and improving my own rescue kittens cuddling Insta game.
Hit me right up if you want to be my social media intern and carry on this noble work. It pays absolutely nothing, but the hours are suuuuuper flexible and the coffee is always on point.
2. I STILL HAVE 9,999 BAD DRAWINGS INSIDE
“We all have 10,000 bad drawings in us. The sooner we get them out the better.” – Walt Stanchfield, Disney Animator
It has been said that we have to put in 10,000 practice (or ‘bad’) hours to master a discipline. Walt landed on 10,000 bad drawings. The actual number of bad sketches, solos, auditions, hours of practice, etc. is largely irrelevant.
The point is that creating bad art is uncomfortable. It requires intentional vulnerability in the face of certain scrutiny and criticism, which (shocker) is the only proven way to advance from creating bad to skillful art. But first, we have to create a steaming heap of bad art in order to become a proficient (and hopefully extraordinary) artist.
Habitually confronting our shortcomings takes stamina and a robust sense of humor.
For the time being, I’m relying on Yeats’ heartening charge – “Do not wait to strike till the iron is hot; but make it hot by striking.”
I’m assuming that being a blazing hot mess (as in smoldering supernova) is not exactly what Yeats had in mind, so I’ll continue logging bad drawings, rehearsals, performances, and hours. I developed an initial roadmap to break my mental inertia…
striking cold iron >> 9,999 bad musical theater dance classes >> hip circumference shrinkage >> getting hot
3. THE ARENA IS NOT FOR SISSIES
Let’s pretend for a red-hot second like we don’t sit on our couches with our
first second glass of wine watching the latest reality TV talent series, clicking our tongues at the contestant’s vocal crack in the second chorus of “Somebody to Love.” All the while haughtily ignoring that the contestant has courageously stepped into the arena (if you haven’t already, please read Teddy Roosevelt’s Man in the Arena excerpt from his Citizen in a Republic speech. Like, right now. Then, come back quickly. Point 3 is important.)
As a sofa-sunken viewer, I risk nothing. And, thus I become one of the critics, “those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
By exposing not only the ‘polished gigs’ (which, to be fair, are still performed in the arena) but also the bad art and practice art here on this blog, I am intentionally inviting critique, feedback, soul-crushing rejection, etc. Because now the iron is lukewarm, at best, and I’m resolved to Light. It. On. Fiyah.
No more the critic. No more peripheral living. I have shed my trendy cardigan of indifference…although now I don’t know what to wear with my lace-up sandals of smugness… whatever, I’ll buy new shoes.
I am a woman in the arena.
My inner sissy looks at the back-sweat stained path of “no’s” and “you suck’s” and years of tedious practice ahead and wants to run the hell away. So, I’ve put my inner sissy in time out until she crows like Peter Pan. Roo-fee-oh! Roo-fee-oh! Wait…where were we?
Ahhh, yes. But even the woman in the arena can be mistakenly romanticized and, subsequently, watered down in our imaginations.
She is not lovely or exquisite or glistening like Bryce Dallas Howard in Jurassic World. Respect though, Bryce. You were entirely badass running from that T-Rex.
The woman in the creative living arena is bowed and blemished from the sustained strain of resisting the tides of vogue, apathy, and peripheral living.
She’s more fierce than fine.
More heartsong than lace.
More substance than flash.
More chutzpah than bass.
STAY TUNED FOR PART 2
[Updated] Part 2 is now available! 7 Reasons I Shouldn’t Start a Creative Blog (Part 2).
Share this post with the closet creatives in your life. Let’s not journey alone.