Planning All the Things

Right now I am in the midst of the planning stages on a lot of different things. It’s, quite frankly, something I adore doing, and I’ve kind of set myself from now to the end of the year to really outline, take notes, study, and develop firm business and marketing plans on top of the creative planning of the actual projects themselves. How fast I am able to move on the plans will very much depend on how fast I am able to get out of the 9-5 job (really crossing my fingers that it will be sooner rather than later) as well as how much extra contract work I get in. I’ve got some big audacious long-term goals though, that will involve letting all of my creative work feed into each other, but it has to come step-by-step, and I have to will myself to do the step-by-step piece of it.

So what am I doing? Well, I’ve started watching some handmade and small business videos on Youtube, learning techniques both for my sewing/costume work and for the work to come here. On the sewing side, I’m making concrete plans to build samples and open a shop up. On the writing/art/music side, I’m going through years of work and deciding what is worth keeping and what to discard. And overall deciding what is the most meaningful to me at the moment. I need to let my passion drive me forward. Because of course after having the most amazing week and 1/2 of moving forward and pushing outside of my comfort zones, I have a recoiling now with that little voice of doubt rearing up, whispering terrible things to me. I’ve had a couple of bad days, where even though I continued my process, the shine wasn’t there. Some of that is old insecurities still lingering, some of that is my letting the outside world bring me down… so to move forward, I must have that passion and drive that I’ve been missing for a while.

While planning, I will probably be getting the urge to create too, so expect more poems and sketches and little tidbits than there has been lately. I’m really excited about my next path.

Skating the Edge of Darkness

So, I haven’t been posting much the past couple of weeks. I have old sketches and poems I could be posting, that I had earmarked to post, and I haven’t because I’m fighting that old voice of doubt again.

When I finally was able to play the piano last week, I felt so at peace, but immediately after, all this self-negativity started rearing up. Probably everything I had bottled inside in recent months began making its way out. In the past, I would sometimes get hung up on the nasty things my mind would come up with, berating myself for being less than perfect at anything I do, and then obsessing over my physical or mental flaws because when I feel bad about myself inside, I feel so ugly outside (which I suppose is better than the opposite, maybe?). This past November, when I was going through massive growing pains and dealing with some mental anguish, I had to fight against myself to stop from deleting all of my Facebook photos from my personal site because I just hated the sight of myself. I’ve mentioned before that I feel intensely, right? :-p

Anyway, this time, when I started going on about all of my supposed flaws to my husband, who rolled his eyes slightly but listened nonetheless (he’s used to having to go through this every few months, and he’s learned that other than listening, he can’t really do much for me because I have to get through the feelings myself, hence the “here we go again” eye roll), I had to start laughing in the midst of my complaining because I sounded so ridiculous. I think the moment was after I went through how I couldn’t do anything professionally enough and was moving on to a catalog of my physical flaws and how I’m not really attractive, and even if people DO find me attractive, it’s only because I’m fooling them with the force of my personality – but duh, personality is part of attraction anyway – that was the moment I burst out laughing at myself. And laughing broke the cycle that usually grips me. I’ve still been fighting the negativity for the past week and 1/2, but I’m letting the thoughts pass freely rather than clinging to them and allowing them to freeze me up. Which is a huge improvement. But still, I’m left feeling a little bit fragile at the moment, so posting old work is difficult for me at the moment.

The other thing that has helped me immensely this week is that I am so insanely busy right now. I took on that extra project, which has pushed back some of the work I’m doing for that shop, so I probably won’t be caught up until the middle of next week, and then I have to start immediately prepping for the Small Press Book Fair in Buffalo, and my son’s birthday party still needs planning, and I’m still waiting on my final tax sheets from my retirement fund to get our taxes sent out to our accountant, and there’s still a list of personal projects a mile high, and our house needs cleaning, and… I’m exhausted, but I’m thriving on the chaos. Keeping busy makes me get out of my own head and lets me not trip myself up.  And I was SO happy to have taken on the extra project, to work with someone who has spent time out in Los Angeles too so we could talk about our old favorite haunts, to be getting my hands in doing the work that I used to do, some of it dirty and annoying, but it felt good nonetheless. I’ve made a new friend and some extra money of it too, always a good thing.

So anyway, why am I posting this here? Because I know a lot of other creative people fight self-doubt. The inner critic is the worst one there is, at times, because that critic knows all of our weakest spots. Laughing at how ridiculous the critic was helped me last week. Maybe it can help you?

Cue the Insecurity

First round of edits on my as-yet untitled novella are finished!  On the one hand, I feel very happy with my story, and I am excited to pass it on to my husband for the next round of edits.  And on the other hand, I am fighting the typical post-creative process of wanting to rip it up in a million pieces and never show anyone.  Opening myself up and being vulnerable is exactly what I need to do in order to share my work with the world, but I’ve got my inner critic working in full force now telling me that my work isn’t worth sharing.

Hence where my husband comes in next with the process.  We are so brutally honest with each other (and let me tell you, that can get uncomfortable) that if he thinks this story isn’t ready yet, he will tell me.  I’ve done the same for him in the past.  We try to be as kind and loving about it as possible, and we know that bottom line, the decision rests upon us as individual artists, but we push each other to be better.  And for that, I am eternally grateful to him.  But even so, even though he holds a piece of my soul in his heart and I trust my husband as I trust myself, my inner critic is trying to manipulate me into not going on to this next stage.  Yet I do so.  Humbly, cautiously, I am moving forward.

The creative person walks a fine line of being confident and being crippled by doubt.  I personally feel like I have stories to tell, songs to sing, and art to make.  I’ve got a lot of raw talent, but my perfectionist inclinations are what my inner critic preys upon, that my talent may never be honed to “expert” levels.  But I move forward anyway, because I refuse to be a prisoner to my own perfectionism.  Because no level of achievement will ever make me a “success” in my own eyes, so I may as well put my work out anyway.

Next step, going over the edits my husband suggests, finally deciding on a title, and tentatively working on a cover.  Then a couple of more edits, giving it off to a copy editor, and my little novella will be ready for the world.  I’m getting closer.