Impossible Things

“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

This was said by the White Queen in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass. I’m not sure if it was this directly, or if I read something by someone else that referred to this quote when recommending the following practice: to write a list of impossible things.

When I sit down to write because I want to be creative, but then I can’t think of anything to write, I often start with this practice. I’ll write the heading “Five Impossible Things” and then I’ll try to come up with something. The first one or two aren’t so hard, but after that it’s remarkably difficult for me. Which I assume, like the White Queen says, is because I just don’t have enough practice doing it.

This makes me think of the memory palace method of remembering things. That is, in order to remember a list of items, pick a familiar place, then put your object (or whatever you are trying to remember) into a relationship of some sort with a surprising or unexpected thing/person in that place. So if I wanted to remember my grocery list without writing it down, I might visualize my house, then in my mind I’d walk into the foyer and picture Dolly Parton holding a gallon of milk, then walk into the hallway and see a horse grazing on raisins on the floor, and then walk into the kitchen and see Buzz Lightyear trying to eat crackers with his space helmet in place, etc.

Try this if you haven’t before, and tell me, is it hard for you to come up with those weird, out-of-place characters? I can come up with them, but not that fast. And I’m curious as to how quickly a memory pro, who needs to remember the order of cards in a deck for example, can produce all of these unexpected associations. Does one get better at it with practice?

That blah feeling

I had a conversation last night with my art group about showing work and why we should or shouldn’t do it. I have shown my work (two times, at restaurants) and I told my friends that, even when everyone seems to like it, I come away feeling really awful.

The terrible feeling of showing my work was fresh for me this morning, because I showed my recent figure drawings to the group. Even with such a safe and supportive group I feel bad showing it. And they liked the drawings. So what’s going on?

Writing in my journal this morning I had an idea:  The feeling I get from showing people my work is a fear that they will think I’m showing off or fishing for compliments. When I get a compliment, I have the automatic reaction: oh, she is being polite; she feels like she has to say something nice about it. And immediately after that comes the fear that she thought I was only showing it so that she’d say something nice. That’s it, I’m sure of it. Because as I sit here and type it up, my insides are squirming.

There’s also the possibility that the person seeing the art will say nothing. The question then pops up in my head: doesn’t she like it? Does this scenario mean that I am fishing for compliments? Is it so uncomfortable because it’s true?

There’s no denying that I would like people to like my work. I would like to be thought of as an artist, not as a pretender, not as pretentious. But how do you know what you are? How do you know if your work is worth anything?

I thought about other things that I do that I have no problem with showing. My knit socks for one:

Knitting

 

There’s no problem showing socks. It’s a craft and I know that they are good when the knitting is even and the size is correct. When people like them, I’m happy. I don’t feel any of the same qualms with my knitting as I do with my artwork. Why is that?

There is also work that I do completely for myself, not to show:

ArtJournalPage

 

I showed my art journal to my art group and what they thought of it just didn’t even seem relevant to me. It’s not something that’s there to be liked or not liked. It’s outside the judging realm. It’s for me only. It’s not that I didn’t feel anything when they looked, but that I dismissed it immediately because this is not artwork whose value has any sort of dependence on what other people think of it.

And recently I had submitted some graphics to the Lotus World Music & Arts Festival Pattern Project:

BtonInverted_ycw

 

Two of them were used (along with many other submissions) to make a gorgeous backdrop for the concerts on the main stage. For some reason I didn’t feel blah when I was complimented on them. Why not?

And, finally, this blog:

FigureDrawing3

 

For some reason, I don’t feel bad putting my work up here. Perhaps that’s because I’m pretty sure no one’s reading my blog anyway. (Okay, I know of one person – Thanks, E!) But of course it helps that I’m not seeing my blog visitors face-to-face, it’s clear in my own mind that I’m not putting the work up for compliments but as a motivation for myself to keep working, and I don’t even have the post comments turned on anymore. I suppose it’s a kind of practice in letting the work be seen without the dangers of feeling bad.

I’m sure I’ll be working through this latest revelation of mine in the coming weeks. Let’s hope I find a better approach and attitude to showing work, because I believe that creative work should be shared and I want to feel good about sharing mine.

Following up good writing

I wrote for a while yesterday. Put together a personal essay, which I’d already written about once — just so I wouldn’t forget — and this time, I wrote a more complete, more polished essay. I was very happy with it, and I’m even thinking of taking the plunge and sending it out for publication. But first, I need someone to read it and give me feedback. At least, I think I do. I wonder. Do I want someone to read it just to give me more confidence in sending it out?

Challenge #1 is that I don’t know who I can trouble to read it. I decided on asking my 14-year-old daughter — a very good student, especially in English. She might be just the reader I need. On the other hand, she might not be. Anyway, it’s a start.

So today — and here’s the real “follow-up” that I was talking about in the post heading — I was out in the woods again walking the dog, and I found myself censoring certain thoughts. And the reason I was censoring was because I wanted to get to the good thoughts that would provide me with my next topic of writing. But that’s not how it works. The cool topics only come when the mind is allowed to wander wherever it wants. Goodness! I knew about the critic chiming in as you write, but to have it chiming in just while thinking? That’s going too far.

Once I recognized it, I banished it. I let my mind wander and I didn’t even bother to pull out my little notebook for most of the walk. So ha! Take that, Critic!

But isn’t that just how it is? The same with visual art. You do something you love, and then your critic is ready to pounce on the next project, because it can never be as good as the last one! Ack! Go away, critic. Just let me be.

Dreams and acorns

I woke from a dream in which I kept telling different people about this idea I’d had, about how if you finish a chapter in a book, you can put it down, but if you close the book in the middle of action, you’re still attached. And I was saying how it’s the same with people — that you need to close the conversation with a definite goodbye phrase so that you aren’t still attached. “Attached” is the word from the dream. Very Buddhist. I’m still wondering what it means. It made so much sense when I dreamt it. Isn’t it funny how there’s a whole different set of rules about logic and reasoning in our awake minds than in our sleeping minds? You’d think logic is logic.

I walked in the woods today for an hour and a half, lingering in places to pick up acorns and other nuts which I can’t identify. Must get out the tree identification book and see if I can find out what I’ve got here. I had so many nuts in my pockets, I had to keep pulling my pants up. It would have helped if I’d had a better belt, too. You know how fruit is appealing to animals and so they eat it and that spreads the seeds? And of course how burrs travel on your clothes so that they get spread around in the world and planted? I think acorns are so beautiful for the same reason. I cannot go to the woods without picking up at least half a dozen — even when I tell myself I will leave them “this time.”