…it’s not. It’s yours. It’s your toilet and your bathtub, your bathroom and medicine cabinet captured by your own hand using your own two eyes. This drawing may look like I only have one, or maybe none, but that’s just how I see it at first. Drawing is the hardest and most fun thing I’ve done in years. I love it and it scares the shit out of me. Actually, Danny Gregory said draw what you see from your bedroom door and there you have it.
Fear is so common we don’t even call it that anymore. Apprehension, worry, defense strategy, self-protection, etc. In me it often looks like anger but only if I’m really freaked out. If I feel pushed or cornered or criticized around this new thing I’ve taken on, I am likely to shove back, shout, say “Get out of my face! I already do one thing well! Whaddya want!?” But my friend Jane knows how to gentle the artist out of me, out of anyone, I believe. As we work on writing/sketching a book together, we are learning so darn much en-couraging one another, I’m wondering how we’ll fit it in to one book. She is writing and I am sketching and that is a complete turnaround for both of us. We are somewhat terrified of the process. But going through the process ourselves is the only way to write the book! How can we ask someone else to do it when we haven’t done it?
So our assignment for this week is to write a blogpost concerning overcoming fears when starting a new creative form. We are to give you at least one way you can overcome yours, too. Of course, I always have more than one rabbit in my hat. The very first thing I recommend is to find a friend who is creative and is willing to share their creativity with you. Whether that means listening to you read a poem, looking at your first drawing, or humming along with the song you’re writing, this is a crucial element in continuing the process. Your friend must be someone you trust and who is not your spouse or lover (because what’re they gonna say, really?). It helps if this individual has some talent in the direction you are headed.
I don’t want to make this too long, because I want you all to read it. I think this stuff is really important, facing our fears and creativity and how that just touches on nearly everything. I’m not kidding. It does. Fear has an energy behind it, a push that you can use. I know that sounds crazy unless you are familiar with the old “fight or flight” theory, which you probably are. I personally think there are more responses than just those two to what you can do with that welling up of adrenaline when you feel your old friend Fear knocking, knocking at the door to your heart. Use it to make yourself brave. Teach yourself to stand there and feel afraid then pick up your pen or pencil and draw that damn toilet over again, or write that haiku 167 times until you have said what you truly want to say.
Here are a few other things I do: drink a lot of coffee, eat chocolate, ride the stationery bike, walk up a mountain road (anything that sweats the demons out). I do the drawing over and over again until I get it right. I throw away nothing and I correct mistakes right there on the page the same way any writer would who was revising a poem; cross-outs, insertion marks, and curses included. If you have ever loved a writer and have discovered some of those first drafts, how lovely it is to see those corrections on the page. That it didn’t just flow from their pen like water or ink. It took going back in, going back in. That is what my friend Jane keeps telling me. “Use a little water and smooth that edge. Oh, dab a little kleenex there in all that blue and make some clouds. It’s not messed up. Here’s another kleenex. Now go back in.”
And here we are right back where we started. At toilets where you can get rid of your kleenex or toilet paper or whatever you used to make those corrections. And here is my second drawing of essentially the same scene done only minutes after completing the first one. Yo, buddy! I almost got that toilet right!!! I like the clear bathtub curtains and the curve of the cabinet. I’m getting closer to that old perspective thing. Obviously I don’t see lines like everybody else. All my lines have been poems and lyrics until now. No wonder their wonky. Their hooks. But they’re original to me.
I hope you can see the difference. I have a long way to go, but finally, finally I’m able to push off on the fear like a diver does a platform in order to spring into something totally new; what I’ve longed to do–but buried beneath my fear instead–all my life.