I had a visitor this weekend. My oldest friend (in length of time we’ve been friends, not in her age) came all the way up from Melbourne to spend the weekend with me. She was here for only two and a half days; but those days seemed to exist in a sort of temporal bubble consisting almost entirely of creative inspiration (although they did feature beer and Bloody Marys, as well as chocolate and playing in the waves).
Lena is my muse. She’s the creative being I want to be when I grow up. There is nothing creatively that she can’t do. She is amazingly confident in her willingness to learn a new creative skill, to put herself into the world. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that she’s brilliant at whatever she puts her hand to. But she’s willing to try it. She’s willing to experiment, to play, to make creative mistakes and to learn from them. She’s creatively fearless. And she’s my creative inspiration.
And here is, among many things this weekend, what I have worked out: She’s the opposite of where I’m at. I’m not creatively confident at all. I’m terrified to put myself into the world. Even having a blog is scary when I realise that real people can read it. I’m not willing to try. I’m too scared that I might screw it up. That I might make a fool of myself. That I might reveal my incompetencies. I’ve forgotten how to play. And I can’t begin to learn from creative mistakes that I’m too frightened to make.
So here’s what needs to happen. I need to stop existing in a creative vacuum. I need to surround myself with people who know I’m trying to strengthen my creativity, and who will keep me accountable. I need to say yes to the different opportunities I’m offered. I need to jump at opportunities to be creative, to share my creativity. I need to be willing to put pen to paper, fingers to keyboard, pencil to sketchbook. To write down the fragment of poetry that flashes through my mind; to pin down the vague story idea that floats, etherial, just out of reach. To raise my voice to its full capacity when I’m singing and not be frightened that the notes will be wrong or the pitch will be strange. I need to obey the sign I’ve got written in blue highlighter in the top left corner of my pin-board just above my desk: JUST FUCKING WRITE! – although maybe it should say JUST FUCKING CREATE! JUST FUCKING PLAY! JUST FUCKING BE WHO YOU ARE AND STOP BEING SUCH A ‘FRAIDY CAT! JUST FUCKING TAKE THAT CREATIVE RISK!
On that same pin-board I also have two lists. One is entitled “If I could, I would”. The other, simply, “I wish”. If I could, I would not be scared. And I wish that I didn’t feel scared so much of the time. I wish that I had courage and tenacity. I wish that I had the courage to be more myself. I will only lose my fear, I will only continue to become more who I am, if I obey the sign: Just fucking do it.