Friday, May 22, 2009

What It Is

It’s been over a week since I posted here, which is probably the longest I’ve gone since I started blogging. To be honest, I’ve been in a creative rut for a while now, so it’s been hard to stay positive. When the way you’ve been doing things isn’t working, you can’t keep doing them and hope things will change anyway.
I hate feeling like this, but on the whole it’s proving to be a good thing. Sometimes you have to reach the bottom of the trough before you can become more buoyant and start making sense of it all.
In What It Is, cartoonist Lynda Barry writes about pursuing good drawing for 30 years and how all the joy went out of it for her. She finally realized that when she drew she was being held hostage by two questions: Is this good? And ... Does this suck?
A light bulb went off in my head when I read her words because I could see I’ve been doing the same thing myself and it’s been holding me back. (Does anyone ever get a positive answer to either of those questions, I wonder?)

Barry believes that focusing on images is an ideal way to break the mesmerism. Or as she describes it: “We’re not having the experience in order to make an image; we’re making an image in order to have an experience.” She doesn’t present you with recipes for making finished stuff though. Through provocative collages, illustrations, insights and exercises, What It Is encourages you to liberate your creativity by making it your own.
In my opinion, this is a must-have book for any artist or writer, whether you’re feeling blocked or need a push to go more deeply into your craft.

9 comments:

Ronna said...

Thanks for this recommendation Susan. Looks like a worthwhile read. It's hard to get back on the creativity horse sometimes...but keep at it!

me again said...

I was beginning to worry about your absence! I believe that while our creativity is always with us, it does have ebbs and flows like the tide -- but learning to ride with that sure isn't easy. I will check this book out; looks like a good read. Thanks for the recommendation!
(My word verification is "recharg" ... wow ...)

Lisa PN said...

this is one of my favourite books along with lynda barry's other book called 100 Demons which I highly recommend.

A friend took her workshop and says it was amazing. Hopefully she will come back in the fall!

Glad to see that you are back!

irenka said...

I've missed you. I recently decided to myself that I DON'T CARE if it's good, and I DON'T care if it sucks, It's so much cheaper than and more gratifying than doing laundry. I love working at my art work, I've decided that if it's a piece I really hate, I'll pack it up and look at it again much much later, in a couple of months or years depending on how much I hate it. And if I still hate it I'm sure I will have done many other pieces in between that I liked. I don't often offer my pieces for sale, usually if someone likes it I say "enjoy". and that's enough for me. But, I'm glad you feel like you have found a solution for yourself.

nancy said...

hey Susan, sometimes you have to step out of the forest to see the trees!

Leslie Jane Moran said...

Ahhhhhhhh, the reinvention of the self. You put so much pressure on yourself and you make things look so easy that the "personal" bar is set very high. Hope your new direction will bring you satisfaction and renewed insight. Miss you.

Mandy Saile of Bijou's Whimsy said...

It's difficult sometimes....the road of a creative person... everyone thinks its easy and perhaps because we get to stay home we don't work hard, etc etc...this is so not true and when you add the self induced pressures and blocks on top of everything else...yes indeed sometimes it's difficult. I have a similar problem with my work sometimes...I love to paint, but I am surrounded by hugely successful artists here in my little town and compared to their paintings, well mine basically suck, how could they not when compared to the big guys!...But this is silly I realize and something I have to overcome..sometimes I don't care, I am happy with what I am doing, espeacially because they are bright and joyful and definatly reflect me, but once in awhile that nag of 'does this suck' definalty plays a role in the game...keep your chin up, just try your best, keep working, never give up and take one little step at a time:D Be Well.

spindelmaker said...

If I feel I am stuck in a direction , I try not only go a different direction, but change the shoes or the vehicle. If I feel I cant paint, then I might sing. Or make flower-arrangements, or sow. Or even do the dishes. Something totally different. And then when I come back to painting again, all of a sudden I have completely new ideas. Sometimes I need longer breaks, but I think variation and putting myself out there for other impressions, or input, is important. You need to balance the output and the input, is my experience. So don´t worry, it will come, when it is ready. The only way to speed the process is to actively NOT push yourself. Reading books and traveling always help too. :-)
Thank you for your wonderful comments on my blog! You are so kind!

Ganga Fondan said...

Wow, it is great to read your blog again. I always feel inspired by how versatile you are. Stephen Pressfield wrote a great book called the "War of Art". Also, I find some of my greatest inspirations come after meditating. Suddenly the lyrics to a new song or a desire to explore a new picture arises and I feel high again. Letting go of thinking "clears the slate" so to speak.

Have a great day,
Ganga