Juvenile

 Self-perception is a tricky thing for artists in any genre.  It can be too easy to think of yourself as better than you are, or worse than you are.  Either way lies a pit of expectation.

I find that I think of my work as juvenile. It always appears to me to lack whatever it is that makes art or writing seem adult. I’m not sure if it is depth, or experience, or…? When I am drawing, my art often seems too clean, too bright, too sharp.  Like a child’s marker drawing.

My writing, well, I struggle to get any depth to it. To move beyond interesting descriptions into something that makes people want to read. My writing often reads like a high schooler writing in their diary, or a laundry list.

I am unsure if either of these perceptions are accurate – as I have  no audience to poll – but they stop me from creating a fair amount. Because I know that whatever I put out is going to be lacking in some undefinable way that I can’t fix.

This has been on my mind a lot lately. Grownup quality work. How to create something adult, interesting, compelling.  How the authors I read get to the point where they can make something engaging. How artists add enough of themselves into a piece to make it more than a doodle.

Is it that these artists know themselves well enough that they can share bits of themselves in their work? Is it practice or training? Talent or learned skill? How do you get from high school creative writing class to a ripping good read?

******

My short story is still out for one magazine, having been rejected (such a harsh term, but that’s what it is – though some publishers couch it as “declined”) for the other two.  No feedback beyond, “We’ll pass, thanks.” I wasn’t expecting a lot of feedback, but something beyond a form email would have been nice. And much like the “A fat envelope means you’ve been accepted to college” wisdom, there is a idea that if your story is rejected, but you get feedback, it’s good.  If you get a form letter, it’s not. I doubt it has a ton of truth to it – but it is still a thing you hear.

I won’t lie.  It’s discouraging.

I listened to the Writing Excuses podcast a lot last week.  If you are a writer, or interested, it is a fun listen.  Short (15 minutes or so), and they have book recommendations and writing “assignments” each week.  There is some in-depth discussion of technique and process as well.

The episode that stuck with me was about writing for fun.  Or rather, having fun writing. I’m not having much fun lately, and it has been a struggle to even do any at all. I’m getting bogged down in the “what comes next” bits, rather than enjoying creating a story. I’m having a hard time sinking into a world for 10-15 minutes before someone hollers for something or I need to break up a fight between the girls. I haven’t been protecting my writing time each day.  And thus, it has turned into a chore, and worse, a chore I’m failing to do properly.  Like doing the dishes but breaking a plate every time you load the dishwasher.

Drawing and painting has hit a point where I am improving, but still can’t quite get the picture in my head onto paper. Everything is just missing…something.  But I don’t know what exactly, so I can’t fix it.

I’m frustrated. And I’m stuck.

What do you do when you feel stuck? How do you get moving again?

Advertisements

One thought on “Juvenile

  1. When I get stuck, I try to get some distance from whatever I feel stuck in, and then go at it hard. Sometimes that means getting myself into a different environment or checking some junk off my to-do list or being physically active or doing something that scares me or inspires me.

    I can relate to feeling like my art and writing is juvenile too. I think I’m ok with that. Part of it is that I have a hard time focusing on one pursuit, so I never feel like I’m perfecting my skills. As the years go by though, I can see that I am. However, I’m not in it for perfection. What I love about all creative works and and creating them is seeing the rough edges, the dynamic movements, swells, pits, the balance of struggle and the release. I make art to have a conversation between myself and whatever speaks to me. I usually paint intuitively without a plan and then flesh out whatever starts to emerge and ask myself why I’m drawn to it and what it means. I don’t know if it means anything to anyone else. It’s a hard process sometimes, but it feels satisfying. It’s a pretty juvenile way to create, I suppose, but as long as I’m moving forward I feel good about it.

    Now I feel awkward about everything I wrote. So juvenile!

    Like

Comments are closed.