Monday, December 16, 2013

Creative vulnerability - I know I'm not alone but...

I did another market yesterday, I have been doing markets in the lead up to Christmas to sell the jewellery I have been making. Over the last three weekends I have spent every Sunday on this incredible roller coaster that is showing up and putting my creative products out into the world for people to judge, and maybe even buy. Fortunately I have had my incredibly supportive and wonderful partner, Derek, by my side for the majority of this time.

The thing is, that yesterday went quite well, in comparison to the other two markets anyway. But that hasn't stopped the aftermath from happening - I'll explain what the aftermath is, and any of you who create things I'd love to know whether this resonates with you.

This is the sort of thing the fuss is all about
(photo quality isn't that great - I can't believe
I put that in here, like I'm making excuses
to you guys for my product now!)
The aftermath is a feeling of complete fragility, where I just want to crawl back inside my safe creating space and pretend that the world doesn't exist, and that I can create without having to put things out there. At its worst, I seriously consider whether I have made the wrong move leaving my safe (and somewhat anonymous) public service job, where what I produced did not come from the core of who I am as a person. Most often, I just feel raw and exposed, like I spent the day standing completely naked in front of a group of people, telling them all of my deepest fears.

It shouldn't be this hard
Now, let's take a step back here people - I'm selling jewellery, and not very complex jewellery at that. Why the hell do I feel this way? Why do I feel so exposed and destroyed just by putting some trinkets on a table and asking people to consider buying them? I know and I don't know.

What I know is that it has a lot to do with not feeling worthy, with the fear that I'm not good enough and with the internal doubts that anyone would think that anything I did was good enough to pay for. Fear, doubt, and this lovely internal voice that keeps talking me down "you don't think that anyone is going to pay $18 for that do you? It's not worth that much - you're not worth that much" - and yes, that voice exists in just that way.

What I don't know is why it's still there when I am receiving a lot of compliments for the jewellery and it's selling quite well. Maybe I just haven't learned how to silence it yet, this is all pretty new to me, but if I don't find a way to do that, I may as well just call dinkylune off as a nice idea.

Because this isn't just about the jewellery, the ebook had all of this in spades (and don't think that the voice isn't claiming victory on that one since it hasn't sold very well at all - and yes I know that may have a lot to do with me no promoting it very much, but the lack of promotion also gives me an out against this internal critic). I haven't had too much of this from the blog because I've never asked anyone to pay for this, which makes it very different.

Watching another Brené Brown talk has helped
I just watched another Brené Brown talk, the one from U99 about your critics, and yes I teared up. I love this woman, and I watched this talk at just the right time - another instance of the world letting me know I'm not alone.

So I don't want to shield myself from these interactions, I don't want to go back into that 'safe' environment where my creativity is stifled - I want to be me, and I want to be contributing creatively to the world. But I do need some mechanisms to stop feeling like this whenever I ask people to buy something I've created.

The thing is, I know rationally that when I'm in paid employment I'm also asking the organisation who employs me to pay me for what I can do and for what I create - but it is such a different dynamic because once you get through the interview and probation, you have proven you can do the work and it doesn't feel like a daily judging routine (or it shouldn't).

I will keep being courageous
I need to develop some resilience with all of this, and I'm sure I will get to the point where it is more enjoyment than fear - I should note that while I'm at the markets I'm generally feeling pretty good, interacting with the people who have nice things to say and do actually buy the stuff. The majority of this negativity happens afterwards, all right there is a little bit in anticipation. The important thing is that I do not want to stop doing any of this, in fact I'm about to start kicking it all up a notch - I just need to be calmer and more at peace with it.

I would love to know how other people cope with these feelings? Do they diminish over time? Or even if you just want to share your feelings on the matter.

UPDATE: if you are not on Chrome you may find that the blog will not accept your comments. I've got a query in with Google about it.


Anonymous said...

I think part of what fuels those feelings is that a part of our culture view art as being frivolous and indulgent, and we're raised to believe that indulgence, from a certain age onwards, is irresponsible and immature (it's not, it depends purely on what you're indulging in).

Creating art is a very personal experience, so it's hard not to feel vulnerable when you're sharing your creations with the rest of the world. It does get easier over time though, and if every artist who felt this way stopped making art because of it the world would be a much less beautiful and interesting place.

ps. Now you know why exhibition openings are one of the rare moments of the year when I drink, but that might not work as well in a market setting ;-)


Anni said...

All my creativity is being channelled into building a business at the moment and preparing for walking the Tasmanian Trail. I was actually on the cross trainer when I listened to the Brene Brown talk and like you I choked up and cried... it is hard to breathe when you are exercising and crying at the same time ;-) Thank you for sharing it has helped me to continue to show up in the arena on a daily basis and to listen to the critic in my head and say thank you for your opinion but I am going to do this anyway.

Kylie Dunn said...

I'm relieved that it gets easier over time Matt, and I sort of knew that about the exhibition openings, I have been at a few after all :-) But taking the edge off with alcohol is probably not an option, and given alcohol makes me sleepy, reallynot a good option.

Kylie Dunn said...

Anni, I think crying has been my standard reaction to all of Brene's talks, so definitely not alone there :-) I can't wait to hear more about the business, sounds very exciting.

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