Evergreen Surrealist Pearl Fryar
I walk slowly, but I never walk backward.
— Abraham Lincoln
I left you with a real cliff-hanger yesterday! Rather than moving gently ahead one step at a time in our artistic recovery, we have a tendency to be addicted to Big Drama, so we rush madly to the precipice of complete cataclysmic change before we even begin. And then we freeze, unable to plunge off the edge of Life As We Know It.
“No one is asking you to leap,” Julia emphasizes. “That’s just drama, and, for the purposes of a creative recovery, drama belongs on the pages, or on the canvas, or in the clay, or in the acting class, or in the act of creativity, however small.”
Instead of obsessing about all the different possible scenarios of success and failure, which is just another way of staying stuck in our block, she nudges us to take action. “Creativity requires activity, and this is not good news to most of us. It makes us responsible, and we tend to hate that.”
Instead of surrendering to the fact that there is going to be a humble learning curve, we instead focus on our odds of success. Notice how this is thinking, instead of taking action.
She writes, “In a creative career, thinking about the odds is a drink of emotional poison. It robs us of the dignity of art-as-process and puts us at the mercy of imagined powers out there. Taking this drink quickly leads to a severe and toxic emotional bender. It leads us to ask, ‘What’s the use?’ instead of ‘What next?’
“As a rule of thumb, the odds are what we use, to procrastinate about doing what comes next. This is our addiction to anxiety in lieu of action. Once you catch on to this, the jig is up. Watch yourself for a week and notice the way you will pick up an anxious thought, almost like a joint, to blow off — or at least delay — your next creative action.”
Does this sound familiar? It sure does to me, I am sorry to admit. For instance, you have cleared your morning schedule, packed the kids off to a play date, and the house is finally all to yourself, so you can do the painting or writing you’ve been wanting to get to. And then you find yourself doing the laundry. Well, it has to get done, right? So, you bargain with your artist, “I’m really thinking about my painting while I fold clothes.”
Julia points out, “What you really mean is, ‘Instead of painting anything, I will worry about it some more.’ Somehow, the laundry takes all morning.
“Most blocked creatives have an active addiction to anxiety. We prefer the low-grade pain and occasional heart-stopping panic attack to the drudgery of small and simple daily steps in the right direction.”
Oh, yes, this is a favorite of mine. Then I get the dubious pleasure of beating myself up for it. Ick!
So now, we get down to it. Having examined all the whys and wherefores in our past, the unhelpful, the ugly, the jealous, the toxic people who hindered and hurt us, we now must take a long, hard look at how we re-create all those patterns all by ourselves. And then step away from our private, secret saloon that serves it up in our own special flavor.