At the end of 2015 I conceived of a new photo series and I spent all of 2016 creating what ended up being 9 images in that series titled “Fourth Wall”. I loved [almost] every moment of creating that series and it felt amazing to finally have it produced and hanging on walls. I stopped myself from thinking too deeply about my next project until Fourth Wall was finished because I have a tendency to bounce around between many ideas and never fully dedicate myself to one of them.
When my show hung in January this year I let myself breathe and explore my imagination again. I thought, after so long focused on one project, a new idea would come to me immediately. The funny thing about creativity, though, is that sometimes the longer you practice it, the longer it takes for ideas to come. Let me clarify – the longer it takes for GOOD ideas to come, and even longer for GREAT ideas to come. (And THE BEST ideas may never come, or we may not realize they have come until after they are born and grown and out of our hands).
I decided not to rush my newest series. I decided I would not force myself into an idea. I had a sense that something big was brewing based on events in my life this past year and where I find myself in my own private thoughts. I knew something would emerge. Each time I thought I saw it’s little head peaking, it turned out to be a false alarm. Every idea I had was stale or a version of something I had done before. Everything felt contrived or boring or not good enough.
I think part of artistic maturity is knowing when you are NOT ready to create yet. I used to throw myself into ideas and I had a lot of fun with it, but now it isn’t as satisfying that I can find an idea with almost no effort. That is not bragging in any sense, and in fact it is the opposite – an admission, that I too often fall back on ideas that are recycled and simple. The ideas are not hard to find; the good ones and great ones and best ones hide deep and deeper and deepest.
I was talking to my friend Amy about some things that had been on my mind when I was traveling in Thailand in May – I didn’t say anything particularly spectacular, but I think that letting out some of my recent story triggered something in my mind. A few hours later I listened to a song off the album “I Can Spin a Rainbow”, Amanda Palmer and Edward Ka-Spell’s newest collaborative record, and I felt the words in me. The music felt true to my life right now.
A few minutes later, reflecting on that music and on my recent thoughts I had spilled to Amy, I had an all-consuming vision. It was perfect. It scared me. I immediately got butterflies in my stomach. I was nervous and anxious and I had trouble breathing. I was excited and elated, even. I had a new idea.
And that idea wasn’t stale and it wasn’t easy and it made me feel sick.
That was how I knew it had to happen.
I started explaining it to Amy, who I knew would or could appreciate it, and in the middle of my sentence I noticed a shift in my mind. The idea went from hypothetical to already happened. I believe in manifesting your desires, or thinking of them as already finished. That happened naturally and without warning as I told her about my idea. I felt that it already happened.
I won’t say what the idea is yet, as it will require some legal hoop jumping and a massive look into the eyes of my fears, but I will say – it is different and dark and deeper than I’ve dared to look.
And that brings me to the question I wanted to ask, and why I am writing this to you.
If you had an idea that you knew
would offend and upset some people,
would you do it anyway?
I am going to create my new series. It will offend people. And I am afraid of that – I won’t act like I don’t become anxious (and sometimes even non-functioning) at criticism. In fact, it is my worst quality and biggest inhibitor on my life. And that is precisely why I feel I need to do it: partially because it is already in me, partially because I feel the need to be honest in my creativity, and partially because the series itself is about directly confronting fear.
I already feel uncomfortable writing this. I never mind if people don’t like my work, truly, as I’ve far outgrown that fear. But I am highly sensitive to personally being a source of unpleasantness for someone.
Logic says that the whole world cannot love us,
Reason says that our best chance at a fulfilling life is an honest one,
My heart says that I am not ready to confront my honesty,
My willpower says that I will do it anyway.
Thank you for following this newest journey. I hope I can push through to make it a reality. All my gratitude.