Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Fighting the Critics and the Inner Demons

Do you ever feel “fragmented” as if everyone wants to take a bite out of you. I was reminded of this feeling upon receiving a phone call this morning asking me to collect funds in our neighborhood for a good cause. There are many good causes. I receive several calls a week asking for donations or services. My mail box is bombarded with favorite “causes” and charities asking for funds. A part of me wishes I could give to all of them.

I feel like Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof:” “If I were a rich man, Ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum. All day long I'd biddy biddy bum. If I were a wealthy man. I wouldn't have to work hard. Ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum. If I were a biddy biddy rich, Yidle-diddle-didle-didle man.”

Expectations, another demon that lectures me each day about should haves, could haves, and would be comparisons between who I am, what I’m not, and the people I use as a measuring stick. Women are especially vulnerable to this kind of attack because we are brought up to be caretakers of family, church and society. That ‘s not a bad thing, but it can eat up hours of time if we’re not careful.

Artists can’t afford these conversations of the mind nor take any action on them. If we do, we’re dead in the water. Our work (which is our life) is put on hold, and we fill our days with non essentials to please those invisible others: the critics and the judges of talent and time.

If I sound philosophical it’s because I just finished reading: Steven Pressfield’s book “The War of Art; Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles” Most of those battles are won in the mind and heart, and most of the enemies we battle come from within.

The book can be read in one day. It must be read and re-read to absorb the hidden truths therein. Although, I don’t agree with everything Pressfield said, I did find much truth and common sense. I’ve always felt, as he does, that inspiration and truth are out there for anyone to latch onto if we are in tune with the “spirits, the muses, the powers” that create and guide the universe.

I can’t remember how many ideas I’ve had for stories, illustrations and paintings that never materialized except in my head. And then I learned later that someone else had taken my idea and run with it, sometimes at great financial success. Why? Because they “sat down and implemented it or worked at it.”

There’s a small window of opportunity between success and failure. The person who plods along regardless of the critics, the sarcasm, the “it can’t be done” thinking is the one who wins. We must keep on keeping on even when all around us say we are wasting our time.

“Creative work is…a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got.” –Steven Pressfield

Carol “wastes her time” @