“The best thing is also the worst thing. It’s that, no matter how long you’ve been at it, you always start from scratch.”
Jeffrey Eugenides, author of Middlesex
(on what it’s like to be a writer).
Writers and visual artists have a lot in common. For writers and artists, starting is often the hardest part. It’s that”incubation” phase of creativity that gets us. And that where I am right now. Having finished a fairly large painting I am straining to discover my next great obsession. For a writer to be a writer, they actually have to write, and for an artist to be an artist they actually have to draw, paint, sculpt or otherwise engage in their medium of choice.
How do you get down to the business of art? Last week, conditions were Perfect for Creating… A quiet house, rain pouring down. No one to worry about but myself. And, yet I haunted the internet, checking out how creative the rest of the world is. Beating myself up because I couldn’t come up with that perfect starting point.
Today, I’m not much further. Except that I’ve added a little more pressure. I’ve just committed to participate in my very first art show, in exactly one month. One month. I am famous for throwing myself under the train. I can actually hear the screeching of the brakes, as the engineer tries desperately not to spill my creative guts all over the tracks. I have worked myself up into such a state of frenzy that my alternate ego, The Evil Twin Artist Diva Bitch actually surfaced to lash out at everyone around me. (Sorry).
However, I am reading Bird by Bird, by one of my favorite authors, Anne Lamott. It was comforting to hear that everyone, yes, you, too….. has a difficult time getting out of the starting gate. I check the internet. Eat 2 pounds of almonds. Feel guilty, go for a walk. Sit down. Stand up. Check email for the thousandth time and Facebook for the 199th. I know YOU have probably never had this experience, (right)?
I knew I had to start something. Taking a cue from a good friend, who is smarter than me, I decided to start smaller. Much smaller. With a sketch. Until recently I have been sketching everyday. There has been a brief lull, while I did other things, like try to make money to live on. Amazing how I’ve missed that sketching habit. So, I sat on the porch, sulking. Frowning. Crossing and recrossing my feet. Sigh. As I twisted and contorted my body, squirming my way from chair to table and back again, I spied a bright green bug on my screen door. He was slowly, so slowly trying to make his way to the top. One tiny foot at a time, he angled left, then right, then left in excruciating, exacting steps. I felt his pain. And, I put my pen to paper. May I present, The Stink Bug.