Monday, February 2, 2009
anxiety driven creativity
For most of my adult life (well, actually all of my life only I didn't know what it was called when I was a kid), I was ruled by anxiety. When I was younger I didn't know how to channel it. I only wished I could those huge whooshes of emotion that overwhelmed me and turn them into something constructive but I didn't have any talent. Couldn't sing—my dad once told me I shouldn't be in the school chorus as my off-pitch voice would throw everyone else off. Couldn't dance—my ballet teacher at the used to tap my stomach, not so lightly, in apparent disgust. Couldn't paint—just didn't get it. When I got older I turned that powerful drive into an eating disorder and man was I good at it. There were moments of clarity when I knew that if only I could channel that drive for good, I could accomplish anything. But, I accomplished very thin, very well.
And then I found books. Projects to devote/focus/angst over. Every project I've created has been this convergence of creativity, focus and organization, fueled by anxiety. Man, is that a powerful motivator. As the parameters of each project grew, so did the anxiety—with the effort involved matching. One winter I had 3 projects going at once (Thank You Note Kit, City Walks with Kids, Don't Just Stand There) and ended up in the hospital for 5 days. Flow has been going on for 2 years this month and it's driven me to the edge of breaking more times than I can remember. Having said that, in the past I've always had one thing run directly into another—if not a project someone's bought, then proposals craving to be written. Now? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. It's not that I don't have ideas. I have strong, solid, creative ideas with amazing people who want to work with me. But, I can't get started on any of them.
I wonder if it's all the yoga I'm doing, if that mindset of being as opposed to doing, is actually seeping into my subconscious and letting me ease up a bit. Maybe it's Flow burnout. If either one, they're both firsts.
Surprisingly, shockingly, amazingly, I'm ok with this place. I want to miss the drive, the ambition, the achievement, but I don't.