I had an interesting albeit painful experience this week. I’ve been working on a book proposal for the past 6 months with my colleague, Jackie. It has been simultaneously an agonizing and rewarding process. For example, the title has gone through several incarnations morphing into the present – Be Brave. Lose the Beige, A “Coloring” Book for Living Outside the Lines title. We are hoping that this will be a must have manual for Lady Boomers (women of the Baby Boomer generation) for creative living.
My husband dubbed me a “Clay Writer” because I like to think I write with clay and sculpt with words. And that is how this book, and its companion book proposal, has evolved. It has been a process of sculpting each word as if it were made from the colorful polymer clay I use to create the illustrations for the book. Needless to say, there is more than a bit of ego involvement in this endeavor.
Prior to submitting the proposal to a potential publisher we asked a few people to review the proposal. I failed to anticipate how vulnerable I was making myself by subjecting this work to public scrutiny. Our first reviewer (whose opinion mattered a great deal to me) was surgeon-like with their editing scalpel. I’m not sure what I expected from these reviewers. I naively assumed the response would be praise and applause, not necessarily a critique of academic proportions. Despite the fact the criticisms were spot on and will help to make the proposal a more effective document, I was crushed. I even felt a measure of shame. You see I spend an inordinate amount of time researching, writing, and sculpting. I have often hidden these endeavors from my linear lawyer friends out of fear they may think it’s silly or a waste of time. (You see, even at 60 I still care what others think) But creativity is funny. It’s kind of like breathing. I can’t fathom living without it.
After a day of self-doubt I shared the critique with my very creative 34 year old writer daughter. Having experienced this on a few occasions, she rushed to reassure me. “Mom, would you trust a child you created to just anyone? Your art work and words are your creations and should be entrusted to people who will nurture and encourage these ideas .” Unless I’m being paid for future creative efforts I’m going to choose my audience carefully. My daughter said to send future comments her way and she will act as my filter as to what to keep and what to delete. I like that idea. Creative expression, though fun and fulfilling, is really nerve wracking.
I’m a journal writer and I noted this experience in a journal entry. As I listened to this interior monologue it occurred to me this creative quest of mine is no less than a spiritual one. Perhaps God is an essential truth within ourselves. To deny this part of myself to pursue something more linear, is to deny the God within, what we are called to become in this life. Pretty lofty, huh? Or maybe just a rationalization to permit myself to do what I really want to do.