Monday, February 4, 2013

What jumps make your horse skittish?

Whenever I get stuck as an artist, person, maker of things, whatever, I always turn back to The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. I can't recommend this book enough, for any kind of artist, like even if you are an artist of Bank Statements. This book is for anyone and everyone. Julia taught me that an artist can be successful and be healthy, have money and a family. That an artist can be groundbreaking and safe. She helps me believe in myself and to get me to work again instead of dreaming. So, with months ahead of me and no work to fill them, I turned back to The Way. I decided this time to start in the middle because I ALWAYS start at the beginning, and I have read those pages hundreds of times, written and rewritten those exercises. And while they are useful, I wanted something new and different and challenging. So I jumped in around week 6 or 7 (depending on which way I flipped the pages, because I ACTUALLY started at week 7, but it referenced something in week 6 so I went back a little before going forward again) I am doing it a little more informally than usual - not doing the 3 pages of prescribed journaling, but still trying to stick to a weeks worth of exercises before moving to the next week. Trying to listen to my internal monologue - Hmm, I see you are resisting doing that exercise, well that must mean we NEED to do it. So there!
      Last night I was reading and a paragraph jumped out at me. It was a chapter about breaking through creative blocks and getting started on work. Julia says we need to call procrastination Fear and we need to acknowledge that fear to start using it. Ok, that matches up with a lot of things I have learned in therapy - my anxiety has something to tell me, and I need to listen. But all I can see is the fear.
        Julia says, "Think of your talent as a young and skittish horse. This horse is very talented but it is also young, nervous, and inexperienced. It will make mistakes, be frightened by obstacles it hasn't seen before. Your job, as the creative jockey, is the keep your horse moving forward to coax it to finish the course. First of all, take a look at what jumps make your horse so skittish. You may find that certain obstacles or far more scary than others. Remember that in a horse race, there are other horses in the field. One trick a seasoned jockey uses is to place a green horse in the slipstream of an older, steadier and more seasoned horse."
      And suddenly I could feel my heart beating in my chest, because I know what scares me the most about some of the new work I want to do - I have to go into a rehearsal room, and I have to lead it. Something I have never, EVER done. Sure, I have lead classrooms, but I was putting people through motions I have done countless times. I am going to have to walk into a rehearsal room, own that room and guide people through things I am not even sure I am capable of. While I can run, I do not think of myself in terms of my body in motion. I think of myself as almost a wind up mechanical doll - all angles and awkward whirring and clunking around. These two things combined: my fear of leading a rehearsal room and my awkward association with body movement terrify me and make me afraid to take the leap that seems like it should come next.
      A little voice said so clearly then, Hello!? You have many director friends (Julia would have me note that as well - she calls them shadow artists, artists who do an art form that is NEAR another art form, but have lots of associations with others, such as me being a costume designer but hanging out with Playwrights and Directors - you know, people who INITIATE work) and I bet those director friends would welcome you into their rehearsal rooms, maybe even let you assistant direct (I don't really know what that even means, and it is such a terrifying idea to me I deleted it 3 times before actually typing it!). Ok. Deep breath. Ok. That seems like a good plan. Even a doable plan. However, I am in Altoona right now and I don't want to wait for months until I am back in Philly to start doing work. So I need to find other things, more In Altoona Doable things. BUT, this was a breakthrough and an important one. So Philly directors/friends, be looking for my call in May. Because I am coming to you!

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