feedback fear

the face that started it all

the face that started it all

I won’t ask for feedback on my creative projects, in spite of feeling that I really should.

I am afraid.

I don’t think I’ve got a clear idea of what it is I want to say about the world and my experience of it. And if I give someone else a chance to offer an opinion, I know I’m a wimp, and I’ll change my work to meet their expectations. I’ll lose the opportunity to express myself because I’m not strong enough to resist good intentions.

And yet, I remember Nick’s delight at a small figure prodding me into creating three more versions. I loved the feeling of winning his approval. I also took courage from his understanding of what I enjoyed about that particular creature. I was astonished and pleased by its liveliness, and he got that.

In those early days of exploring clay sculpting, if I’d invited comments from someone who hadn’t liked what I was doing, I’m sure I would have given up. In the face of indifference, I’m barely able to keep on with any project, but given out and out criticism, I fold. All my internal negativity floods out. “See, “ I hear myself shouting, “I told you you couldn’t do it,“ and I slink away, red-faced that I even dared to try.

If I get things actually finished, it’s easier to show them to others. But even so, it’s scary when I don’t know if I’m going to receive helpful insights or flat rejection. It takes an unshakeable belief in yourself to withstand an “I just don’t like it,”  Perhaps even more fortitude to hear “What if you just changed this part? My friends and I would buy something like that.”

Because ultimately, that’s where I seem to be stuck. If someone would pay for what I’ve created, I would think it had value. If it goes unsold, then no matter how much I liked it, it feels like it just wasn’t good enough.

I hate that I do this to myself. I see, and hear, and enjoy all manner of beautiful things that do not cost money. When I’m in my right mind, I remember that, and can enjoy whatever I’m doing. So for me, a crucial part of my creative process is trying to stay in my right mind. I try never to think “will it sell?” I focus on shaping the clay, stroke by stroke. I watch for signs of where it wants to go. I feel its texture and learn simple but for me, amazing things.

And I put off the outside world and its judgement for as long as I can.

 

#creativeprocess, #feedback, #fear, #opinions, #clay sculpting, #criticism, #sellingart

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Kaila arrives

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Her comparatively small size in no way impedes her imperial demands. When she thunders across the kitchen from one window to the other, you’d think we had a herd of horses in the house, instead of one fierce tabby cat.

It’s been only 8 months since Kaila has joined our household, and we’re amazed at how much things have changed. Nick and I have never laughed so much. We’ve learned to play stair games. We’ve increased our tolerance for toppled plant pots. And we’ve accepted instruction as to how much petting is too much. Amazing how much one can learn from a sternly-administered warning nip.

I’ve almost always had cats for companions. But after partnering with Nick, I’d become unwilling to invest emotionally in another pet. My new relationship, my music, my writing and crafts, and my job used up all the energy I could spare. Nick hadn’t had a pet since he was a boy, so we neither of us missed the cat hair, the litter box or the vet bills.

Somewhere along the line, though, things changed. We discussed the possibility every few years and argued ourselves out of it. Until last fall, when we visited the local SPCA and fell in love. A slender young mother, big-eyed in a foxy face, had sheltered her kittens in a boat during a cold winter, before being rescued. She’d looked at us, exhausted. Her own children successfully adopted, she had also nursed a foster litter of abandoned kittens. Nick got down on the floor beside her to touch her fur with a gentle finger. She extended a tentative paw through the cage bars to play, and we all connected.

And now we can’t remember what life was like before Kaila.

The unexpected thing is, Kaila’s presence reveals things to each of us about the other. I see a Nick I didn’t realize existed. Who knew that my thoughtful, often intellectual husband would try enticing her to sleep, because he’d researched feline health online and discovered cats need 16 hours of rest? Who would have guessed my quiet, reserved partner would talk, meow and sing with her so much? He tells me that I can get her chasing and pouncing and jumping in a way that he can’t. I assumed that everyone knows how to play with a cat. But no! When Nick holds the stick with the dangling furball on the end, Kaila stares at it for a moment, then at him, then sinks down to the floor, suddenly completely engrossed in removing a speck from her shoulder. I try explaining how twitch the stick and make the toy move furtively, but he’s bored and the cat’s bored until I pick up the stick, dance it past her nose, and we’re all laughing again.

Welcoming Kaila to our household was such a good idea. It’s been magical.