#Failed: For Those Days When You Feel Like a Big, Fat, Creative Failure
Living the creative life, we think, should be filled with Pinterest-worthy images of tidily organized art spaces, laughing, smiling people, glittering moments and prizes being handed our way with abandon. This is especially true for those of us who feel that we were called to be artists.
After all, if Spirit called us and we answered with a resounding, "yes!" then things should line up. Gigs should open to us, agents should call, galleries should reach out. Not that we expect everything to be easy, of course. This is work, not finger painting in kindergarten.
But when none of the above happens, we start to doubt. Doubt turns into fear. Fear turns into paralyzing anxiety. And then we can't create anything...other than reasons why no one is reaching out to us.
- My work stinks.
- She didn't mean what she said about my having potential.
- The gig fell through because I'm a crappy musician. Everyone knows it but me.
- My fifth-grade art teacher was right. I don't have any talent.
- He never called about the project because he's secretly laughing at me behind my back.
- If God really wanted me to do this, why would it be so hard?
Sound familiar? These are all variations of the things that run through our heads when doubt sets in.
Going through a creative desert
I have been writing now for 11 years professionally, meaning that I make my income from writing. But even though I've written seven books, written hundreds of articles for many national magazines, recently won my first writing award and teach classes and retreats on writing and creativity, I spend a lot of time feeling like a big, fat, creative failure.
Recently, I've been walking through a creative desert. I've been trying my hand at writing a new type of novel and the process is making me easy prey for indecisiveness. I've lost a really great client and with them, a significant portion of my income. I've been looking for other writing gigs and have been coming up empty.
"D" words pretty much sum up how I've been feeling lately: Discouraged. Dismal. Depressed.
That's why I was incredibly blessed listening to the Kingdom Art Life podcast yesterday morning. Marlita Hill, the host and a fellow Christian creative, spoke words that resonated with my soul. I encourage you (highly!) to check out her podcast, particularly Episode 18 if you are also feeling like you're in the "D" place.
I have been praying about all of this a lot lately...when the bills come in and the amount in my business checking account is dwindling; when some other Christian author gets another book deal; a bigger, more important contract; or when they add another thousand fans following their inspired, honeyed quote on Twitter.
To say I'm dealing with the creative green-eyed monster would be an understatement.
Yet, Spirit has been encouraging me. Reminding me that I'm hiking my own mountain at my own pace. Showing up when I feel too raw, ugly, muddied and overwhelmed to be seen, much less helped. I'm learning slowly, sometimes painfully slowly, that it's not all up to me. In fact, it's not really up to me at all.
Encouragement for your journey
If you get one little bit of encouragement from this post, I will count it a success. If you too, can relate to these feelings and experiences of being a #failedcreative then I hope you come away from this with just a bit more hope than when you started reading.
This morning as I had my quiet time, I read this passage which was so, so fitting:
The Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He has watched over your journey through this vast desert. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you, and you have not lacked anything. ~ Deuteronomy 2:7 (NIV)Creative one, please don't give up. Don't let go of your belief in yourself and your Creator. Don't let doubt and dismay and depression win. You were blessed with these incredible gifts for a reason. Open yourself up to Spirit. Reach out to other faithful creatives. Your hands are blessed, you lack nothing, and you are not alone.