It is Well with my Soul BYU Vocal Point

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The PIt of Fear in the Core of Creativity

When is writing a book like painting a painting like designing a house?  You begin with an idea, hollowed in a pit of fear.  Fear that I will not do justice to the idea.  Fear that my skills will falter before the immensity of the idea.  Fear that others will not find my idea beautiful--as I do  Fear that I will get bored and walk away before typing "The End:" or painting my signature.

The first sentence I type, the first brushstroke, the first line on a blueprint carry a world of possibilities....I may paint a Mona Lisa; I may write a classic; I may build a cathedral.  With every sentence, I narrow my possibilities.  The strokes become more and more specific; more and more aimed at achieving a desired effect or of clarifying shape or shadow.  The sentences must fit the former ones written; matching them in style and building the plot I have chosen to write.  The building now has a budget; a purpose; and every nail hammered will play a part in attaining that purpose.

The work largely ends itself.  There comes a point in painting when you must stop or you will "overwork" and muddy the freshness of what you have done.  The book after seemingly endless revision is at a point where it has said what it must say---the millions of other stories you might have told must now fall silent or line up to be chosen for the next work....but for now they are quiet.  The building is ready to inhabit...all it lacks is an occupant and for now, the cathedral will have to wait.

You know it is done when you lift your hand to add something...and your hand falls silent to your lap. It is as it must be.   "A finished piece is, in effect, a test of correspondence between imagination and execution."* You have carved your idea and polished it and now it is ready to be shown to the world. Here enters new fear.  Or perhaps none.  Perhaps I am so pleased with my work that I am eager to show it; eager for others to partake in my idea.  The fear that toys with my stomach is now the anxiety preceding my next piece.  Perhaps I cannot do it again??

* some thoughts on reading Art and Fear: Observations on the Perils and Rewards of Making Art.
By David Bales and Ted Orlund
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