Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Transcending Rejections & Roadblocks

The ninth secret in "12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women" by Gail McMeekin, I'm still reading along with other book bloggers (The Next Chapter). I've gotten a little off track with posting on this, but I'm not giving up, because I've found that reading this book along with a great group of creatives really quite helpful.

I think that this secret is probably the turning point, where one decides whether it is worth it to pursue the creative path. Because rejection is absolutely a part of this process, and not everyone is willing to push on through being rejected (more than once usually!). And overcoming the roadblocks that are thrown up, by yourself and others, physical or mental is really where "the rubber meets the road." Do you want success (however you've defined that for yourself) enough to put yourself through this test? Which will be an ongoing experience, not a one-time thing.
I believe this is where the creative dilettantes and dabblers are separated from the Serious Artist (note the serious capitalization). And it is admittedly where I find myself poised at the moment. Well for the last year or so really. Being a creative dabbler is really fun, and relaxing and you meet all kinds of interesting people and try out so many really really interesting new things and techniques. And my goodness I've really truly enjoyed it and gotten so much out of it, and it has saved me so many times I can't even count.
But in the end, the question asked in this chapter essentially, is that really enough for you? For a whole lot of people I bet it is absolutely enough, and those folks are the audience for most of the quilt, craft, scrapbook stuff and magazines and classes, etc. A very valid choice and nothing to ever be sneered at or looked down upon. Better to be a creative dabbler than a frustrated person who never ever lets herself get down and dirty and creative. but but but I hear myself saying, it isn't enough for me anymore.

"Putting yourself out there and sharing your work qualifies as an act of courage and tests your fortitude." - Gail McMeekin

So I have put myself out there, with my work, for many years now. And maybe it is courageous, but that's not how it feels anymore. It feels like it is just part of the whole work of being a creative person. And I know that I need to do much more of the work of the business side of being an artist, instead of just hanging out as a creative dabbler.

A great fun exercise in this chapter is making a list of ten acceptance fantasies and then writing them out in descriptive detail, who you talk to, what you say, what you're wearing, which work is involved, what you're paid, etc. And then further on, taking those same acceptance fantasies we're asked to actually detail what goes into success at making these happen, what ingredients you are missing, to specifically plan out how to make those fantasies become reality. That's the crucial thing isn't it, to figure out how to make it happen, oh and to actually follow through and Do It.


Anne Huskey-Lockard said...

Having been down this road, I find this post exceptionally right on, hitting home. This won't be short.
For years I was a creative with an ability to learn, execute and finish good product. I entered some minor shows, worked with other people and generally enjoyed the time.
The stings and knife thrusts of the first rejection letters and casual comments people make about your work are well remembered.
Somewhere along the line, I decided I needed to step out of this comfort zone and compete nationally. There was success, there was failure. I was unwilling to make *the quilt* that would win the prize at shows but none the less made quilts that were unusual and connected with people. Very art laden. (my background) And I did this for some time with a sale here or there, etc.
Then one year, at the end of the year when I figured what shipping, insurance, appraisals, entry fees, etc. had cost compared to the prize money or sales----I was doing no more than breaking even and not even that when you consider materials and work.
So. I felt, at this point, that I had to make a decision. I was tired of meeting ridiculously short deadlines, paying the $$$ for quick shipping, and then gaining nothing. I was tired of the rat race it had become. I was tired of doing competitions that had no appeal to me but knew I probably could get in.
And I quit.
I started focusing on a series of shrine quilts which have shown in several more traditional art venues and I am happy. I also returned to may painting/mixed media roots and am finding great enjoyment. I enter competitions as the humor strikes me. I have been asked to show occasionally. All in all, I am happy.
It is a matter of finding YOUR PLACE in the art scene, be it fiber, what I do which is so odd I can't describe it, or whatever.
And being HAPPY. The joy I used to feel working on an art quilt, the passion for it, the ability to be in the zone for hours is all gone. That too can be the other side of *stepping out* into the next phase of your work.
Remember, the most important part is, at the end of the day when you look at how you have spent your time (even on those bad-quilt-days) you need to say "Am I happy?"
As for competitions, get yourself some chainmail armor to wear, or perhaps asbestos underwear. I also learned that judging is subjective, and in the long run, means nothing. (as I have often yanked the stake out of my poor crushed heart and started over...)
I hope this post is of some help---I don't mean it in any way as a downer; it is strictly what I happened to experience and nothing more.
Quilters who gain a name and choose to go the teaching/travel/book authorship route have more stamina than I do....and money too! But that is not me. DOn't travel, will teach here, and maybe someday, write a book.

Amitofa said...

Julie - This posting hit home for me. Very inspiring Thank you - Amitofa

Laume said...

Both Julie's and Anne's comments resonate with me. I asked myself the question years ago, while on the edge of going the "entering shows" route, and realized I had no interest in the potentially successful life that choice could lead to (and of course might not ever arrive at).
And yet, like Julie, I'm not sure if I am comfortable accepting that I am interested in being nothing more than a dabbler. (and I don't mean that as a negative either) There's a huge difference between a professional hobbyist and a commercial professional and it's not necessarily skill, but intent. For some reason I think of it as a Getrude/Alice choice. Do you want to be the one in the limelight or the one who still hangs with the well known, but enjoys the cooler life in the shadow.
Back to Anne's comment, I do think for me the key question is to work on work that feels worthwhile for ME first and foremost, and to worry about whether that will resonate with others as well after I find my way.

Jaye said...

I am so proud of you for the way you are approaching your art. I know it is a long and winding road, but you have the stick-to-it-iveness to make it. I love this post and think I will put it as one of my favorites. Definitely one to look at in the future.

Tera said...

Until now I am making only paper collage, but I feel it is time to start making something like you did. Hope it will nice, just like yours.