By: Kgabo Chuene
Haven’t had trouble writing in a while but the past two weeks have been an uphill climb. This might be because I met a crazy boy who messed with my emotions, but I think the real reason is because I got such awesome feedback from my last two posts and now I’m feeling the pressure to not slow down and to not drop the standard. It’s crazy, like you’d think I should be at peace and celebrating.
Elizabeth Gilbert in her Ted talk about Creative Genius starts by sharing that her book “Eat, Pray, Love” had become a freakish success and that she expected to celebrate and be celebrated but instead was met by concern from people asking her if she wasn’t scared or worried that all the books she’ll ever write following that one would suck.
Find the talk here. She raised an important point about how we’ve become okay with Artist being depressed and self destructive. We are no longer moved when we here news about a creative over dosing on drugs or committing suicide. I mean we can’t possibly be okay with this. I agree, why are we okay with this?! The thing is Art is an offering, a piece of oneself and often we rely on the responses and reception of the audience to gauge our success.
If people love it, we still wonder if they’ll love the next one, if people hate it, we continue grafting away to make sure that the next work is loved. Despite all of that we really don’t have to die or get sick at the hand of our own work. Why are we under so much pressure, from our own selves and from the audience?
It’s as if we aren’t allowed to be human. We are not allowed to make mistakes. There’s a sense of perfection that is somewhat expected. I mean, that’s a lot to carry around for a person. Nothing is more crippling than feeling as though you can’t make mistakes. The truth though is that no one ever ‘arrives’. We all should always strive to keep getting better. The difference is that our work is often personal and then the audience sometimes take personal claim to it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great when people take my work as their own and it serves them that way. This however comes with their freedom to then express their deepest appreciation or their deepest disappointment.
When people don’t like it or don’t get it, it often lands as them not liking us. It’s okay too to not like certain works, the trouble is often that that’s where it sort of ends. With an Electrician for example, following the disapproval of the work they did, there is a systematic way of how they can do it better, a sort of method they can follow.
With Creatives it just sort of ends at the part where people either like or don’t like your work. I mean it’s probably something I should make peace with right? I mean not everyone likes everyone, right? I wish it was that easy. Most unpleasant experiences (that horrible song or that horrible article) in life I like to think are like vaccination.
When we get vaccinated for flu for example, they inject you with a strand of flu so that the white cells know what might come, so that they know to bring the correct weapon to the fight. Things happen to us sometimes that have us wondering if we’ll ever recover, if we’ll ever be back on our feet. I had one of those moments not long ago. Then like a whisper in my ear a thought came to me. I’m not a well that’s running dry and I’m not low on reserves. I’d like to think the same about my creativity.
My creativity is not about to go extinct, I don’t have to freak out every time I write a great article or sing a great song. There’s more in me, there’s more in the world that we can continue to drink from. Our work doesn’t have to kill us.