For those who missed my announcement last fall, I wrote a book. I’m going to be sharing even more specifics about it very soon, but it is a home decor book with my home being the lead character and my decorating ideas and tips being the bulk of the content. When I was working on the book, it all came easily. I feel like this book has been brewing inside of me for years and it just poured out. I wrote 17,000 words over the top end of the range requested by the publisher and that was even after I completely cut out a couple of chapters.
The photoshoots and styling felt natural and fun. The home projects we tackled didn’t always go smoothly, but I enjoyed the process of creating and making and I’ve been thrilled with the end results. None of the work weighed on me like a huge project that I had to slog through until I reached the finish line. There were times when I was almost giddy with excitement. It all felt good and right and like some of the best work I’ve ever done.
I turned the manuscript in months ago and we’ve been working through the edits, the layout, and the cover. And now the book is 99.9% done and I have time to reflect… and question. This is where it becomes difficult to trust what has come out of my hands. Is it good? Is it good enough? Will other people like it? Will all of the joy that bubbled while it was being created translate? Is my taste unique enough to not be boring, yet broad enough to appeal to a wide range of people?
Oh, the questions!
They don’t plague me with anxiety or keep me up at night, but they do temper my excitement a bit, now that the work is done and set and can no longer undergo dramatic changes.
As I’ve been thinking through these things and thinking about my journey as a creative entrepreneur, writer, designer, and artist, I think that trusting what comes out of my/your hands, what you and I naturally want to create, might be one of the hardest parts of the creative process. I think it’s a close second only to starting; dealing with a blank piece of paper, uncut fabric, or white walls.
I first pondered the concept of trusting what came out of my hands when I was painting. I have to admit that I’ll sometimes look longingly at the work of other artists and wonder why I can’t paint as they do. Even when I try to study or emulate them, why does my work still have that Marian-esque quality about it? That quality has followed me around my whole life and has been impossible to shake, no matter how hard I try to not draw like me, paint like me, decorate like me.
Isn’t it interesting that it’s hard to embrace our unique work even if that’s what makes our work recognizable, distinguishable, and interesting? Other people see it, but we’re too close to it. The fact that it’s not like the work of someone else should be celebrated, but instead, we judge it by comparison. We estimate whether something is good by stacking it against something created by another hand, another creative mind. And it’s all so subjective that you can’t possibly come away with a straight answer of how your work measures up.
So, I have really been working on this. I’m trying to grow in the area of trusting myself, what I’m naturally drawn to, what my hands intuitively want to make, and what my creative mind conjures. I want to celebrate what makes my work different instead of questioning why it doesn’t look like the work of someone else. I want to embrace the work I’m proud of and allow the joy that comes from being genuine cast a lovely light on everything I do.
It may not be your thing, but it’s my thing.
And your thing, whatever it looks like at this stage of your journey, is lovely, too. We can both do beautiful, meaningful work that is different and yet equally amazing.
I have to say that the exercise of embracing what comes out of the end of my brush is helping me accept and celebrate my other creative work like decorating, writing, styling, and photography. Just like the colors I intuitively mix on the palette, where I hang a mirror, how I paint a table, or the fabrics I choose for the curtains are all a part of my work. They are all creative decisions that make up a room, an aesthetic, a distinctive look.
So, I want to ask you… How are you at trusting the work that comes out of your hand whatever that work is? Gardening, decorating, writing, drawing, painting, quilting, knitting, cooking… Do you relax into it? Do you embrace your work? Or do you struggle with questioning it as I often do?
Is it too old-fashioned? Too colorful? Not colorful enough? Too trendy? Not on-trend? Too amateurish? Too quirky? Too perfect? Not perfect enough? Too normal? Too weird?
If a steady stream of questions like these follow you and your creative work around, that’s a good indicator that you are not embracing what comes out of you. I think questioning, learning, growing, and reassessing are all a healthy part of the creative process, but when you have done your best, you’ve done good work that you’re proud of, that’s not the time to start asking questions that are subjective and rooted in comparison.
The fact that your work (and mine) is unique is a good thing for so many reasons and in so many ways. And I wonder how many people, including me, are editing themselves because they don’t trust what is intuitive, organic, and genuine.
So, let’s do that. Let’s trust our creative souls and what our hands produce. Let’s run those questions and comparisons through a filter to determine if they are productive or devastatingly critical. And, if they are the latter, well…we don’t say “shut up” in the Parsons’ house because it’s rude, but you can tell the critical voice that asks those questions to just shut up.
And then create something you love.