Wednesday, March 20, 2013

"The enemy of art is the absence of limitations."

^Orson Welles

In unrelated news, I bought myself a Canon T4i! Riley made a sort-of cooperative but oh-so-adorable subject.
This is kind of a follow-up on my last post. Or, perhaps more accurately, this is a post about how I've reached the downside of my creativity kick: the feelings of creative inadequacy, the inability to accept anything less than perfection, the crippling self-doubt.

It seems silly for me to be so affected by these things. I mean, geez, it's not even like I have to do any of the things I set out to do. Maybe it's because I have unattainably high expectations for myself, because I expect myself to be great at everything and that I have to know everything right now. Maybe I'm just feeling intimidated by other people's intense and seemingly inherent creativity. I don't know, but I seem to have hit a wall.

I think I'm a creative person, at least in a broad sense. I like to approach everyday situations in unexpected ways, and I like to turn mundane things into strange ones. I've had entire conversations that were built on those very things: I've created a hypothetical world in which vacuuming is far more exciting than vacations and in which we live in a symbiotic relationship with our vacuum cleaners. I once improvised an entire theorem about how the Earth is actually a living dodecahedron coated in reptile scales inside of a universe-bowl. A couple of friends and I rewrote the history of the United States by re-imagining what the names of events meant. So apparently I can come up with interesting things when I'm not thinking about it.

But the moment I say something like, "Hey, I feel like writing a story," or, "I want to make a movie," or even, "Dang, this class is boring; I should doodle until it's over," my brain turns all stony and logical and I end up just staring at the blank page wondering where all of my creativity went and why I can't even think of something to doodle on my notes. Just a stick figure would do, really. A 30-second video. A short story. Something. Anything.

I guess there's some switch in my brain that detects the possibility of failure and shuts everything down. "STOP! You can't do that! It might turn out to be bad! And then you won't be successful at anything in your life ever!" (Things in my brain escalate quickly.)

So then I just become a frustrated non-artist with excellent intentions but nothing to back them up. And then my brain says, "Oh, geez. Now look at you. Can't even doodle. You'll never be successful at anything in your life ever!"

Now, when I have good ideas, they're really good. I'll give myself that. They're just so rare that when I'm in between them I get lost in this spiral. Then I'll watch a Terry Gilliam film or something and think, "Why can't I think like that?" And it's that kind of ridiculous comparison that leads to this very blog post. I mean, really, Courtney. Who else thinks like Terry Gilliam except Terry Gilliam? There is absolutely no point in comparing myself to a creative genius like that.

I think Orson Welles is right, though. Without limitations, everything is straightforward and simple. And art is rarely pure and never simple, to borrow from the incomparable Oscar Wilde (yes, I am aware that he actually wrote that about truth, but that didn't fit. So shush). So many of the most brilliant things come out of not having the funds or the materials or the time needed to do the things that were originally intended.

Maybe this is just my own limitation. I've always had a tendency to quickly get discouraged when I can't do things I feel I should be able to do (as in, well, everything, pretty much). I'll just have to be one of those people who has rare but awesome shining moments, and I guess that's cool, too.

When I started writing I had every intention of waiting to post until I'd thought some more about whether I really want anyone to read this or whether anyone would even care. But I know if I don't post it now I won't, and then I won't have learned anything. This is the kind of thing that usually I would stash in my brain and brood about for a long time until I get tired of it or something else takes its place. But in an effort to actually write something, and being (as usual) unable to think of anything else, I decided it was just as good to just be open for once. So here it is. An honest confession.

Until next time,
~Snooty Crumb

"And if you're paralyzed by a voice in your head
It's the standing still that should be scaring you instead"
~ Ben Folds Five, "Do It Anyway"
This just happened to be playing as I was finishing up and I thought it was appropriate. :)