It recently dawned on a new section of my brain that I might be an artist.
Well, I shouldn’t say new section. It’s more like a section that didn’t previously hold this truth to be self evident: that I spend most days coming up with ideas in my head that I then turn into words on some form of page – that this pretty irrefutably makes me a writer, which is categorized inside the arts (v. sciences), which by default, but still pretty clearly, makes me and artist.
Ugh – the new section of my brain just rolled my eyes.
To be clear there is another section of my brain that knows slash knew this damn well. It’s the section that screams hey read my stuff I wrote!! on every social media platform I know how to use (still not Snapchat. Maybe never Snapchat). I take this seriously!!I worked hard for this!!I think this is important!!READ IT! Or, in the case of Sunday Night Sex Talks – leave your house on a Sunday night for it!Buy a ticket!This shit is important!! Or, in the case of my managers and agents, Hey! Sell this! Pay attention to me! I believe in me!I want you to believe in me!You SHOULD believe in me!
It’s also the side that pushes me to do things well beyond my comfort zone for the sake of my art. Things like not make money or deal with harassment or risk embarrassment or buy really insane outfits that make me feel most like my artist self.
That side of my brain also knows what it takes to make the things I make – be they blog posts, sex talks, film scripts or Instagram comments. It knows because it’s sitting there fighting through the insane and indescribable process of moving things from inside my head to wherever I need them to go next. And it knows the truly bizarre cadre of factors that make that brain work. Like that I need to write in a long-sleeved shirt – preferably an oversized, chambray button-down that used to be my Dad’s – no matter how hot it is outside. Or that I like to wear headphones while I’m writing even though I don’t listen to anything through them; it just makes my head sound better. Or that I hold my left hand up to my upper lip when I’m really struggling to figure something out because I used to suck my left thumb as a child for comfort and that that’s where my top finger would lie. Or that when the going gets tough and I need to hit re-set I take a shower and sing Angel from Montgomery to myself (Bonnie Raitt version, duh) until the ideas start flowing again.
It knows that this work is hard, and that I have to take care of myself in a special way to get it done.
So part of me gets it – I’m a writer/creative/artist. That’s specific. It takes specific elements to work. I’ve got to act and sit and think and be a certain way to get it done. Fine.
So then what was this other part of my brain that wasn’t so on board thinking? Oh, you know, things like this:
Get over yourself. Just sit down and do the damn work. Oh you need to take your dog to day care because he’s distracting you? AAww you special little snowflake. It must so soooo hard to get to do what you love every day. What’s that? You feel like you need to take a break – things aren’t working? you’re feeling a little lost? Get a grip and do the #$%-ing work. This is a job. It’s about volume. Volume equals progress equals money equals you’re an actual writer. So buck up and be better. Stop babying yourself. Stop making excuses. Stop needing so damn much. Also, if you’re lucky enough to be home all day the least you can do is cook dinner. Ugh and please stop calling yourself an artist. It’s so…self important.
She’s a bitch, right?
I know, but I know where she’s coming from. That bitch voice is fear talking. It’s a defense mechanism that kicks in to try and talk me out of whatever it is I’m trying to get done. That side of my brain is the more clever side. It knows all the pain that could be on the other end of a creative pursuit. It says what are you DOING?! This could end REAL bad!! Abort! Retreat! Hide! And then it tries to convince me to do so through a unique form of sabotage that I’ve expertly cultivated just for me! It’s impressive, really. Maybe you have a self sab system too? This isn’t limited to us crazy creatives and there are a million ways to get it done – booze and drugs being popular choices among them.
But the other side of my brain – the artist side – doesn’t give a shit about all that. It doesn’t follow logic. It just feels and goes. It is not clever like the bitch side but – and this is what I’m finally starting to realize – it is something that is sometimes more powerful. It is true. It is who I really am and really want to be.
So how did the bitch side start to defer to the true?
I’m not sure. I think it’s a combination of experience and exhaustion.
Experience-wise I think I’ve had enough times at bat that I now have retorts to the ABORT!! I can say, yeah it might be REAL bad but it might also be REAL good because remember that one time it was REAL, REAL good? Remember how you felt after that one Sex Talks show or when you got feedback on that one script? Let’s just try and maybe we end up with that again? Because I think that might have been more good than the bad was bad!
Exhaustion-wise I think I’m tired of the effects of being so hard on myself. It doesn’t work. Well, it works to keep me down but it certainly doesn’t work to get shit done. You can’t square peg round hole your brain. And frankly, the constant attempt is starting to feel dumb. No one else is being quite so bitchy to me as I am to myself. So there’s starting to be less and less evidence that this nastiness is A. logical or B. warranted. It’s just a bully. And the only way to make a bully go away is to ignore it.
So, very long story short, I’m working on my whole brain believing I’m an artist.
To some of you that may sound absolutely insane, and that is valid. But to those of you for whom I wrote this blog, it might sound revolutionary.
Of course the real win for me would be to say I don’t care how it sounds to you – it’s true.