Friday, October 31, 2008

incomplete, but very long anyway.

This post will be incomplete. It will be incomplete because I want to write out something I've been thinking through and I don't have a clean ending. I don't have a 'therefore'. I just have a scattered group of thoughts and questions that I want to throw out there and let percolate and see what comes of it.

For a long time now I have been developing more and more creativity in myself. I've been pursuing creativity as a way to relax, as a way to challenge myself and as a way to grow. This has become especially important to me since I have become a mom and stopped working outside the home. It's met needs that working and teaching used to meet. And I am really glad that I've allowed it to become so important.

But. Every now and then I have a creative crisis. And I'm in one right now. It's not so much that I've run out of ideas. Or that I'm having a block. I've hit a period of extreme self-criticism when it comes to my creativity. I want to be the kind of creative person that gets published in magazines. That doles out ideas to other people. That has high standards and is among the best of the best. And I'm not there. And I'm not sure that I have it in me. And I'm not sure I want to.

Take the Halloween cookies I made a few days ago. If I think about my family, my friends that I made the cookies for, the people near and dear to me, I think I did a great job! I mean, honestly. Cool cookies. But when I look at other blogs and what others are doing, I think my cookies look sloppy and silly. And I'm not sure what to make of that.

I don't want to outright say that it doesn't matter what other people are doing and that it doesn't matter what other people think. I want to be challenged by others to grow and try different things and to continue to develop this side of myself. But I don't like feeling so critical. And I don't like losing sight of my family and the people I made the cookies for. I want to strike and maintain some sort of balance where I can look at other people's rockin' cookies and look at my rockin' cookies and hold everything in a healthy perspective. Something like: "wow! Those are great cookies! Mine are great too! Next time I might try to do some of things that this person did! That would be fun!"

I think that kind of balance is possible because I'm sure I've been there before. I'm sure this is a period I need to muddle through and just make it to the other side, hopefully with a few lessons learned.

So, my dear readers, can you relate? Do you have an area in your life that is important to you that you are trying to strike a similar tension of wanting to grow without reaching the point of frustration? Any tips on how you muddle those times?

Oh my goodness! And I also want to say: Happy Halloween!
Check back later for pictures of Little Green Aliens pan-handling for Snickers bars for their Amazing Mother.


Mama V said...

I think it's so funny how the content of this post isn't reflected (to me) in the pictures you chose. Those Halloween cards are amazing! (Thanks for ours, by the way!) You know that I'm always telling you to START SELLING YOUR WORK because the quality is that awesome! My goal by the end of the year is to convince you to start your own etsy shop already! ;)

I don't know about you, but when I see how something is assembled and all the steps and components that go into making it, I am far more critical of myself. That stew I made might taste, say, too salty to me, even if I followed the recipe step by step. But I know that if someone else were to follow the same exact recipe and come up with the same tasting stew, I'd be raving about it. (Maybe I'm just fishing for compliments?) :) Do you ever find that to be the case for you?

I took a pottery class for years and love all the things that it did for me but I never stopped being critical of myself until the very end (and even then I mostly muttered those criticisms under my breath because it became old to other people around me). I could see every flaw in every piece. When I sold the pieces at a yard sale before we moved here, I had folks asking me to sign my name on paper for a display and who wanted to meet "the artist" and shake my hand! To them, the pieces were more than "good enough!" Who knew?

I always wonder why it is that we doubt ourselves and our creativity like so?

Okay, just reflecting with you here.

And there might be some things that might be more rockin' than others. Your cookies might not always be store worthy but your cards (or quilts or cakes or whatever else) just might. Or maybe just not your Halloween cookies but definitely your Xmas or Valentine's Day cookies. ;)

erin said...

Hey Robyn,
Please don't be hard on yourself. Next to the average person you're Martha Stewart without the mean streak. I became really critical of my drawing since Greg left and honestly I hardly draw at all anymore. I don't think it was a healthy reaction and I'm still trying to figure out why I stopped drawing and what to do about it. My attempts to start up since then have been short-lived and half-hearted. Wow, maybe I need to start my own blog.

Firefly said...

Okay, for what it's worth, I agree with what has been said so far--about how great the Halloween cards and all of that. But I want to point out something that feels a little vulnerable: There is a lot of creative stuff you post pictures of on this blog that I am not as crazy about as other stuff you make. The reason why? Because sometimes I think it looks so Martha Stewart-ey. So craft magazine-ey. So... boring. I loathe Martha Stewart. I think her only redeeming quality is her mean streak.

The Halloween cookies? Loved them. I thought they were absolutely adorable. I would pay hard-earned bucks for them. They look like folk art to me. The handwork and people-ey-ness of them makes them feel so warm and inviting. I'd like to give them out as Halloween gifts.

The Halloween cards that I readily agree could be featured in a magazine? Not so crazy about them. They're just okay, in my mind. A bit too glossy for my taste. I much prefer the whimsy of the gingerbread skeletons and mummies.

Granted, I am one of the people in the "friend" group, so my taste doesn't factor into the standards of the self-critical voice, it sounds like. But I think it is worth noting that there are very different kinds of tastes and audiences for creativity. One gal's Thomas Kinkade is another gal's Pablo Picasso. One gal's Martha Stewart is another gal's Robyn Rice.

I often have very different opinions from your critical voice, and I think my taste is just as refined as your inner critic's--just different. So if you ever need a second opinion, you know my number.

Seeking La Loba said...

Hmm, lots of good and interesting input here. I feel like I don't have much to say just yet, except for one thought. I feel like when I reach those periods of discontent, it's often because I'm at a point of needing a change--a change in goals, a new challenge, something like that. I just try to stay aware of that need, and journal about it, and talk about it, hoping that the processing will eventually make the path more clear. I think an etsy shop, or trying to sell your work at a fair, or making a goal of trying to get something published could all be really exciting goals. But it sounds like none of them totally call to you yet. Or maybe they are calling to you, but it feels too intimidating. I always have to sort out those voices in my head. Do I want it? If so, what's stopping me? Or do I not really want it and that's what's stopping me? And if so, then what else do I want? Oy, so complicated!

A.S. said...

hi there! i've been reading your blog for several days and want to say thank you for all the laughter and smiles and thoughts that your blog has offered me. i feel that you are a good writer and an amazing artist. your boys are very cute and their lovely smiles really look like spring sunshine that can warm up my heart which is easily hurt in so many ways in my real life.. and the love in your family is really touching and made me think about a lot of things.. thank you again for helping me although i'm just a stranger to you. by the way, i guess challenges always go along with frustrations which is why the feeling of success is always hard to get. but you have achieved a lot in so many ways so that i know many do admire you including me. again.. wish you good luck.. and all the best to your family! =]

Shannon said...

See, to me you are SO creative. I am so not creative. Everytime I look at what your doing, I am amazed! I don't really like crafting but I do like baking. Everytime I see one of your creations it makes me want to go bake. I know we're always tougher on ourselves and I don't have an answer but just wanted to say that you do inspire me as well as others I'm sure!

Melissa said...

I have to agree w/ Firefly here. I think the cookies were one of the most creative things I've seen on your blog. Those were a Robyn original. I also agree with Shannon (kind of)- your blog inspires me. I said "kind of", because it doesn't inspire me to bake (because if I put up a picture of the things I'd bake, you would REALLY have to stop questioning whether or not your stuff is good). But hearing about your life and how you work creative endeavors into it really amazes me. I often find myself thinking, "How DOES she find the time to do that stuff?". But I think that in the way that I have no excuse and that I, too, should be making more room in my life for creativity and inspiration.

NOt tonight though. TOnight I'm going to veg out and watch a movie. (-:

I will say this in ALL honesty, Robyn: you inspire me. On a day to day basis, you inspire me.

Know what I think? If those other blogs cause you to compare yourself in a negative way to them as opposed to being inspired by them, maybe you should stop looking at those blogs- at least for a while! For me, I've found that looking at home decorating magazines have the same negative affect on me as fashion magazines have on many women who struggle with their body image. Home decorating magazines often just make me think about how old and crummy my house looks. They don't inspire me to make it better or more my own. So until I can look at those magazines and they have a better effect on me, I've had to put them away for a while.

Long comment, yo.

debs14 said...

I think that we sometimes need to realise that perfection isn't essesntial or necessarily as good as something obviously homemade that has been made with love and effort. We all know that a clay pot made by our children with a lopsided handle and a very individual shape, will always take pride of place over some exquisite item that cost a fortune and is perfect in every way.
Your work is amazing - no doubt about it. I discovered your blog through a class you were taking with Shimelle and I now find myself checking it on an almost daily basis as your stories are so amusing and heartfelt that I can't keep away! I want to know what happens next and as a Brit, I find your stories of life in Brooklyn fascinating.
Don't ever underestimate the quality of your work - it is fabulous and if you set up in business, I can almost guarantee you will find success!

esme's mama said...

My voice is definitely a faint echo at this point but I have to say I'm thankful to have stumbled onto your blog through Melissa's. And I agree with Melissa that when I see all you do I wonder what my excuse is...I only have one child and can't seem to find the time to do half of what you do.
What I meant to say, before I read everyone elses comments was that my most recent goal has been to creat more things which feel hugely long term goal that I feel strongly passionate about is to begin my own business...similar to what you were saying I feel almost helpless about how passionate I feel becuase it seems such an impossible task to complete. I guess this also echoes what some other's said about changing goals but I've found I need to find a way to reduce that overwhelming goal into some small bites so that I feel I'm at least starting to move in the right direction...tough though I agree! thanks for your vulnerability, it's always nice to know we're not alone!

Boy sorry this is long :)