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


hard to start

I wanted to give myself time off from writing this morning as a reward for getting through some difficult moments yesterday, but here I am. It’s funny how thinking about a blank page intimidates and burdens me. I think of the pressure to “get it right”, whatever “it” is and think, nah, not up for that, and yet in between browsing, I open up the word processing software, and look what happens.

For my music at the moment, the longer I put it off, the harder it is to get started. I can come up with a gazillion excuses, starting with “not enough time” but really it’s fear. I feel like whatever I try, it has to be a completed piece, a statement. That’s a good thing when it drives me to complete something, but a daunting thing when I’m just not sure what I want. I doodle, I noodle, and I put it away. I’ve been hoping to reach that moment where somehow I believe I have something important under my fingers and I need to go further to see how it turns out. Nothing so far has caught my imagination strongly enough to fight off my critical inner voices. They have me bound and gagged. So I go carefully, thinking I want rest and treats, but really, I’m secretly searching for an escape to a protected place where I can experiment and no one will laugh with contempt. And it’s all in my mind. I can write music with headphones, leave it on my computer and no one could hear or judge. Except those critical voices in my head.

I wonder where their “mute” button is.

surviving criticism

I’m suffering an attack of Freud’s Id this morning. I woke up extremely grumpy, lists of to do’s rampaging through my mind, and feeling extremely guilty about snacking on cookies yesterday, not raking the yard, not doing the dishes, not cleaning up the clutter, not working hard enough etc. etc. etc. “And what is all this about?” I ask myself gently. “Mind your own business!” I snarl back.


Okay, I have my cup of tea, and I’m sitting down quietly. I’m trying to think what has happened recently to precipitate this attack of never-ending “to do’s”. Ahhh, maybe it’s because yesterday I received a “commercial” warning from Flickr. I had been using an Flickr account at work to back up all the photos of products, prizes and special events I had been taking. My work computer is old and I’m afraid it might develop some crippling disease (yes, it’s on the unsupported Windows XP).


I thought I was being clever saving the photos on the “cloud” where some of our suppliers could see how we were using their prizes in our contests. Saves me from having to email them. Flickr accused me of selling from their site. I can see how they might have thought I was trying to attract business, now, with some calm reflection, but at the time, it felt like some stranger was peeking into my hard drive and criticizing me. And oh, I have such a hard time dealing with criticism.


I try, I really try to be open to guidance and direction and helpful hints. And if criticism is given with compassion, ie, not “You’re WRONG!”, but “Have you thought of trying this?”, I have a chance at least of handling it better. Being criticized is like out of a clear blue sky a Monty Pythonesque foot slams down on me. I lose confidence in myself and everything seems wrong, hopeless and grey.


I saved my pix elsewhere and deleted the Flickr account, and no one’s yet taken me off to Internet Jail for Bad Behaviour. After my cup of tea, maybe I’ll do music and hope my normally bright, sunny (but cold, 0 degrees C this morning) world will return.