To All Our Creative Curls… This is a MUST watch video for you!
“Norman Mailer said shortly before his death that, “Every one of my books has killed me a little more.” … (This is ) an extraordinary statement to make about your life’s work but we don’t even blink when we hear someone say this. We’ve internalized and accepted that creativity and suffering are somehow inherently linked (and that) artistry will ultimately lead to anguish.”
“Then the renaissance came and people began to put the individual human being at the center of the universe above all Gods and mysteries. And for the first time history, you started to hear people refer to this or that artist as a ‘genius’ instead of, having a genius and I think that was a huge error. Allowing somebody, one mere person to believe that he or she is the vessel…the essence and the source of all divine, creative and unknowable mystery is just a smidge too much responsibly to put on one fragile human. It’s like asking somebody to swallow the sun. It just completely warps and distorts egos and creates all these unmanageable expectations about performance. And the pressure of that has been killing off our artists for the last 500 years. ” – Elizabeth Gilbert
As an artist myself, I can identify with this completely. I am currently, in rehearsals for an off- Broadway show I’m doing and I was witness to an actor tearing himself apart. He was pacing, sweating, making awkward jokes, over-thinking and just plain drowning. If any of you are performers, you know that the rehearsal process can be one of the most frustrating, ego-shattering, and torturous things in the world if you don’t take it for what it is and truly trust that it is a process. To be in a room filled with fellow actors, the director, the musical director, the pianist, the choreographer, and the assistant director and not be able to ‘perform’ at your best or to their liking is one of the worst feelings of rejection a performer can feel. And instead of owning that it wasn’t perfect yet, he was fighting it. But ‘getting it’ isn’t even the hardest part. Once you make it work, you have to repeat it… over and over and over again while adding your own fresh little spin to it so that it doesn’t get stale and boring. It’s exhausting and mind-bogglng all at the same time but if you’re a creative person you live for it.
One of my favorite acting teachers once said to me that when it comes to live theater, “You make it different every night not just because you’re trying to be as truthful and in the moment as possible, but because you also need to preserve your own sanity.” The night before I received a standing ovation for my work in one of her products. I was on fire. Seriously, I slayed. That next evening, I was more than ready to go out and repeat my previous performance. To my surprise, nothing was landing. No laughs, no applause, nothing. I was beating myself up backstage… almost in tears, applying more makeup (as if that was going to somehow change my performance), questioning my talent, my physical appearance while lacing my corset a little tighter… straight trippin… and slipping into that rejected, misfit actor pit. It wasn’t until after I spoke to my director/teacher did I realize she let me bomb on purpose so that I would never again try to be perfect while trying to be creative. Those two efforts are like oil and water. Together, they don’t mix. I quickly understood that my previous performance could very well have been my absolute best and that I may not ever be able to repeat it again. But if I was ever going to get anywhere close to resurrecting that performance I was going to have to get out of my head, forget about the audience and my incessant need to be affirmed by them, get free and play moment to moment on stage. It’s really a crazy world to be in. If you are ever searching for yourself and need some clarity,consider being a performer or offer yourself to others in any creative form. It was surely bring all your deepest insecurities and victories for you to reflect on to the forefront. I promise.
So with all that said, how do we help creative people manage the “inherent emotional risks that come with creativity”? How do we battle creative narcissism when in today’s world with Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and every other social media platform you almost HAVE to be somewhat self promoting and narcissistic? Let’s be real, Shanti and I wouldn’t have a blog or platform to even ask these questions on if we didn’t constantly take pictures of ourselves and post them all over the internet with the latest hair trends and such attached to them. That helped put us on. I don’t know the answer. But I do know that it is a constant struggle for both of us. Where do we draw the line? And how do we handle rejection when we spend hours on a style or post that gets no love? How do I go on stage after I just cracked 3 times in rehearsal? How do we feel safe enough to continue to share creatively?
In the words of Dave Chappelle, “I just don’t wanna be that tragic m*thaF*CKa”.
I Couldn’t Help But Think About These Fallen Creative Soldiers.
- Whitney Houston
- Michael Jackson
- Donny Hathaway
- Jean Michel Basquiat
So, What Do You Think? Does Creative Genius and Artistry Ultimately Lead to Anguish?