Recently I drove by a Michael’s craft store that I visited only once. It brought back memories that made me smile and helped me remember that a creative journey starts with baby steps.
It was on one of my first trips to our newly acquired lake house, (more like a fishing shack) and the longing to be an artist was just germinating. The problem was that I had no idea what to do. I kinda, sorta wanted to paint. But to paint what? With what?
So into Michaels I went in search of inspiration. At this stage of my creative journey, just being in the store with the intention to “create” was daunting. Eventually I landed in the scrapbooking section because I liked the pretty papers. And it didn’t involve buying paint, paper, and who knew what else. Easy seemed like a good idea at this point.
On the paper aisle, an idea dawned. I could take those blank cards over there and glue that pretty scrapbook paper on the front in different shapes. Scissors and glue sticks seemed accessible in the face of my unadulterated intimidation. How could such a simple desire as wanting to be an artist cause my heart to feel like it was going to beat out of my chest?
Since that weekend when I cut up a storm and glued paper like crazy so much has transpired. Eventually I took a watercolor class. Then another. During one particularly difficult class, a great weight was lifted when I realized it was just paint and paper. So what if it wasn’t good? That’s what trashcans are for. So I kept painting and with time, I’ve been happy with what has landed on the paper.
Then came the clay studio. Once again I entered a foreign land and went through the agony and joy of being a beginner. Nothing worked right at first, yet over time, what seemed un-learnable has become second nature.
No one comes out of the gate a creative genius. As Ira Glass said in this NPR clip, we all have to go through some pretty bad stuff to get to the good stuff. That’s the journey. That’s the joy and yes, agony. Yet how else is a work of creation to speak to us if it doesn’t hold all of the emotions, including those we deem “bad?”
What are you waiting for? So what if you can’t do it well? Just start.