first draft, or: on the nose
I have some trouble with personal decision-making in certain spheres. It used to be worse—I would waffle over where to get a coffee or what pen to buy for, like, a really long time. Maybe spend all morning half-wondering what coffee shop would serve me best. Or staring at a wall of pen choices for long minutes, considering the nuances of every pen option.
I wanted just the right choice so I could work or think at my best. It’s easy from a distance to say that I should’ve just made a decision and moved on, but I often felt so paralyzed: I didn’t really know what I wanted and so couldn’t make a decision.
I’ve gotten better at making small decisions, or at least knowing what outcomes I can expect from small decisions. Let me explain. I don’t noodle for many, many minutes over where to get coffee but often instead just forego coffee shops entirely. It’s extra noise in my day that I previously thought was important for mood-setting and artistic focus. By avoiding, I don’t have to walk to the shop, stand in line, order and buy the coffee, find a seat, get settled, listen to background noise, let my mind settle, begin slightly and then go to the bathroom, maybe see someone I know and get into an unplanned conversation with them, get packed up after doing almost nothing, and leave disappointed.
The going-to-coffee was a stand-in for some kind of meaningful work time and I put so much pressure on the choosing, as if all the creative work would flow out of me effortlessly after I’d perfectly chosen a setting.
Don’t think I dislike great work locations. That’s not what I’m saying. Or don’t think I’m against some good Feng Shui as a catalyst for great thinking.
It’s that I was conflating the choice of a location at which to work, or the pen with which to work, with making good creative decisions. I thought somewhere inside that if I set everything up perfectly I would achieve great results. The easy stuff—finding a coffee shop, buying a great pen—was the work I wanted to do because it had concreteness, and so seemed less intimidating.
After hundreds of tries to set myself up perfectly and never succeeding, after feeling unfulfilled and disappointed so many times, I am seeing that the setup doesn’t matter. The sooner I get to work, the sooner I have some shoddy first draft, and the sooner I get to the beautiful job of editing, revising, iterating, completing, and getting to see a wee bit of my timid soul in the work I put into the world.
I see after so many disappointing failed starts that the belabored coffee shop choice is really fear of the blank page.
And it has taken me so long. Years. Years to begin to realize in some distant visceral location that creation work is scary and it cannot be set up perfectly. Just beginning the work with whatever tools and locations I have at hand has proven the safest and best place to start. Sitting on the couch? Just start. I think anyway there is some safety in just remaining small, staying out of sight of the world, when you begin working.
And then the hard but oh-so-glorious work of continuing. Of showing persistence and discipline. But more on that another time.
second draft, or: MBTI lens
I have a desire. A significant one. It’s a persistent longing. It’s to write and form a body of ideas, and share it with you all and wow you by my smarts and creativity. Yearnings, urges, bubbling cauldrons.
Since this is a persistent thing, I’ve moved through various phases of expression of this yearning.
Like many, I suspect, I associate working on art with feelings related, generally, to the vibe of transcendence. Sounds grandiose, and is in it’s assumptions. I have thought, believed, acted on the idea that I needed these high feelings in order to produce work. The elevated feelings come from creating ideas, from the spark. From the scintilla. From the genesis.
This state of getting high off of ideas is rolling in the intuition.
Is it extroverted or introverted? Dunno.
I do not know what this will be.
I know what it could be.
I know that I will struggle with the difference between what it could be and what it is. That difference is something like a shame delta.
I have some basic beliefs about myself which I think will color how I relate to thing.
- Ideas feel delightful.
- Ideas live everywhere. Lots of things are interesting. How can I connect as much as possible?
- Words matter. How much? I’m not sure yet. But also, talking is thinking.
Topical interests ebb and flow. Often there are many, often there are few. I do not know how to choose an exploration space for myself without just starting.
Outside of the shame delta, and the various inspiration hangovers I experience regularly, there is some other force, a nagging worry that says I need a structure. That I cannot “just start” because I will get lost without a road and map to guide my journey.
However, a pragmatic, unashamed force says that the structures will not come from planning but from doing. That the not-doing is of the shame delta, of all the forces that tell me why it’s safer to not try, why it’s fine to remain unsatisfied.
contents subject to whim, bashfulness, and change at any time.
I’ve been mulling on the arc, the theme, of this place. One notion was just “stuff that sparks”. Part of me says, “god, yes, it’s the only thing sustainable”, and another worried part says, “that’s loose and unsustainably vague. You’ll never get anywhere.”
I guess where I’ve landed is that I have a few really broad themes that I hope will get me started, and I can revise and tweak my trajectory a bit later as I develop a voice and rhythm.
So here are the theme ideas:
There’s the personal stuff.
Becoming a mom, being depressed about being a mom, feeling redeemed now and then as a mom, all the intersections of expectation and reality arising from that. Yeah, yeah, my kid is awesome and I love him so much but also, holy shit: why don’t more people talk about at length about the hardness of this?
There’s also my professional expertise.
I realized recently that instead of visual snapshots of websites and software, my opinions have become my portfolio. I’m that kind of designer now—an idea shaper, a direction-giver. Sweet…mostly. So how can I articulate and share notions about thought frameworks, interpersonal behaviors, and how those things intersect to facilitate interesting designs? I feel like I can add to that conversation, if there is one. Is there one? There’s gotta be. How can I use all the time I’ve spent in an office and shape it into something I own?
And then my swirling eddy of personal interests.
The raw material that I always thought would comprise my career as a storyteller, and which still is floating in bits and pieces in the soupy edges of my consciousness. How does that all fit in here?
I guess it all shakes out to growth, or maybe a yearning for regular old connection. Growing up, growing a kid, growing ideas, connecting with others, with myself, and on and on.
What I propose to actually do
In the spirit of a healthy creative exercise, this place tries to have constraints. A self-expression avenue that has some structure and therefore creates its own forward momentum.
The problem is that I can’t decide on what constraints to set. I cannot stay interested in my constraints long enough to act on them. So for right now, I think the only constraint is to just produce some work. Just get a little momentum going through output.
Just fucking do some work and publish it. Then we can talk about creative fiddle-dee-dee.
I can think forever on what I want to do, or just start out a bit disorganized. I think the latter is the better plan.
Otherwise, this will continue to be me, thinking about this project:
Sharing is scary
It is scary to make a thing, and to share a thing, I think. There is so much good work, good writing, such smart minds out there. What if this is just a bunch of shit? What if my ideas are trite, on-the-nose, juvenile? I guess it’s possible, which feels intimidating. This project then is also about doing and sharing and feeling those feelings and maybe coming to terms with being a little more open, and just being a person despite all the stuff.
I feel sad, said the woman.
Sad all the time.
Sad if there’s whiskey,
Sad if there’s wine.
I cry in the morning,
I cry to the moon
Can you help me feel better?
It’ll be none too soon.