The past week or so there has been quite a few blogs (mostly of the design/art inclination) talking about things they have been afraid to reveal to their readers. I don't know if I have very many readers anymore, and I do tend to be quite open to the point of oversharing, but there are some things that I haven't really told very many people. Seeing the outpouring of support elsewhere though, I figure it would be worth a try.
* I used to be a lifelong devoted writer. People were expecting me to win a Pulitzer just because I wrote tons. As a teenager I was a heavily prolific fanfiction writer, and often wrote stories with my friends in them as gifts. When I had an idea I just wrote it down in a jiffy. I didn't let anything stop me. I wrote as an escape, I wrote for fun, I wrote just because.
Then I took Creative Writing at university. Big mistake. What I was expecting were some resources and support on writing from the heart and sharing your story. Instead the course was based on writing for publication, with a focus on sellability. I would write really honest reflections based on my life and be told "your structure's good, but your characters are unrealistic" - my characters are me! I felt deeply discouraged, felt like I sucked and was horrible, and for a long while I stopped writing.
It's been a while since I wrote fiction. I used to be a regular NaNoWriMo participant but lately I've just been badly blocked. The only reason I've managed to write some poetry lately is because last year in San Francisco I was part of the Writing Ourselves Whole workshops, which uses the Amherst method - freewriting in a time constraint, sharing (if desired), and all the feedback is about what parts of the story resonated positively. No grammar nitpicking, no snide remarks, no shortcomings. Only the best parts. This was what I was hoping to get from my Creative Writing course - people who held your stories to heart, respected your views, responded with what worked for them. In those workshops I wrote mostly personal pieces, plus some poetry, and it felt rather affirming and freeing. Thank you Jen Cross and everyone else that was a part of these workshops.
I'm still blocked in some ways; the writing that used to come so easy to me (songwriting, scriptwriting, poetry, fiction, even some non-fiction beyond Ranty Political Blog Post and including that) is now laced with fear, frustration, can't get the words to convey what I have in my head. Recently I stumbled onto an archive of my Savage Garden fanfic from long ago - I cringed at the quality (they were cheesy as hell), but I rather admired my teenage self for her sheer confidence and just-do-it spirit. I wrote two musicals for crying out loud! I wish I was still the same in spirit.
* When I was at school I was mercilessly teased by my art teachers for being "bad" at art. Well, make that most of the faculty, adding it onto abuse for being a racial minority and having panic disorder and whatever else they had issues with (school was very traumatic for me). I had one teacher tell me his 6-year-old drew better. In Std 6 all of us had to enter a mandatory anti-drug poster drawing contest, and I used a concept that I saw in a book (split skull). When I walked to the school gates the morning they would announce who didn't get through the next round (the names unannounced got through), my head teachers stopped me and told me they found my poster so horrible they threw it away. Since I was no longer in the running my name wasn't announced either way, which made my classmates think I made it through the next round; I didn't have the heart to tell them what the teachers told me. I was 12.
Adding to the frustration of this was that my sister is a very talented artist, and recently has dived into illustration as a career. We went to the same schools (though many years apart, so we were never in school at the same time) and she got all the art prizes. She was the Artist, I was the Writer. I internalised the idea that I was crappy at art; no one was telling me different, and besides I'm more interested in literature and music and the Internet.
The sad part is that if it wasn't for 11 years of trauma at school I probably would have gone quite far as a visual artist. I think in scenes and pictures and images. I have so many ideas for visuals, rich in colour and texture and sense, but I feel like there's a disconnect between my brain and my hand. I am frustrated at my lack of skill, of uncoordination - or maybe that, like my writing block, I'm just too fearful because I'm convinced that I suck. Maybe I need a hypnotist to get me out of that funk. Or a machine that records dreams.
I have been curious about installation art and do dabble in drawing, painting, sewing, collage making, though I'm not 100% (or anywhere near 50% I guess) happy with my results - they never quite look like how I imagined. I'm trying to break out of the fear and trauma, though it might take a while. I am currently participating in a project with Queensland Museum about collections, and thinking of ideas of turning my Darren Hayes song collection into an installation piece - fangirl moment into art. I started by painting his calendar cover with watercolours...it's a start.
That's all I'm prepared to say right now. Thanks for listening.