Saturday, February 14, 2009

VOR-tex and the Taskmaster

Wisdom & inspiration from Andrea Scher:

  • focus on little chunks of time, write during the cup of tea

  • rituals, discipline, routine - keep your 'artist's tool' with you like a pair of glasses you cannot see without

  • for one great picture there are 99,000 bad ones. you must make a mess to make a masterpiece

  • give voice and humour to the gremlins

  • a complete book begins with each word

  • see the beauty in everyday

  • see the bigger picture and the powerful intention behind what you want to create; remember your generosity of spirit; let that motivate you to take the next step


Many others are already doing what you want to do. And they are established in the industry. Who cares what you have to say? Who cares about the way you see things? Other people have credentials.

Your thoughts are not original.

That project will take way too much time and energy just to figure out where to begin. And then you have to stick to it - you aren't disciplined enough for that. You will give up. You will get too busy. It will take you years, maybe decades. Oh, just the COMMITMENT alone is enough to dread the very thought of it. Time will go by, you will be older and more experienced, and you will hate what you created before. You'll want to scrap it all. And if you actually go through with all this drudgery, no one will want to buy what you're offering and you will feel worthless.

Putting your work out there and being judged will make you feel like a failure.

Creativity is a luxury; it is a spoiled gift of North American society; it is frivolous. What about all those who are suffering in the world; what about those who are starving, those who have no home, those who are sick or terribly injured? You should be doing something to help them, not waste time on this self-indulgent fantasy. The world needs you to lend a hand, not a paintbrush.

Drama? Music? Writing? What are you going to do with that? You can't make a living.

It is SO HARD for me to create without imagining the final outcome. It is SO HARD for me to create without seeing the final product being thrown around by the world, ripped apart by its big mosh pit of criticism, and left to deteriorate on the cold, damp ground. Or worse, for my work to be delicately laid out there with its beautiful perfume and illuminating colours only to be completely ignored as everyone just hurries on by.

Saboteurs, gremlins, internal Opera, inner critic, goblins, zombies, harpies - you name it, everyone has a destructor to constantly challenge their creative force. I don't really like to think about mine too much. I like to pretend like she's/he's not there (one thing I know though - it is both a she and a he.) "She" is the Taskmaster and "he" is the "Voice of Reason." Let's call him VOR-tex.

Yes, VORtex, he wants to SUCK all of my creative juices into his oppressive gravitational pull of logic, utility, practicality, rationale, left-brained 'orderliness.'

The Taskmaster - she is always looking down at me with those beady, critical eyes. She is absolutely perfect and knows that no one else can ever match her abilities, her talents, so why bother trying? She will only push me down if I try. And she is waiting for me to stumble, to create something crappy, so she can laugh at my inferiority. She can create a masterpiece in a second, and gloats with all of her credentials, awards and credits as I squirm and make excuses to avoid creating.

I don't like to think about these 'nay-sayers' because they are so NEGATIVE. I am a 'YAY-sayer'; I like to rise above the wave of doubt. I like to be happy, to enjoy life, to enjoy being me. And in my blissful goals of day to day living, I hide these two destructors in the closet. I hide them there and I try to ignore them, to pretend like they don't exist, but every time I open the closet to grab something for the day, they are there. They are there, smiling. They are there, gloating. They are there, inflating. Because the more I try to ignore them, the more powerful they become.

I don't like to acknowledge this. But with so many brave souls in this blogging group, I know I owe it to myself and everyone else to admit that these jerks exist and bring them the hell OUT of my closet!




VOR-tex - YOU can do the vacuuming and dusting since you are so good at 'sucking' and Taskmaster - since you are so meticulous and so perfect, you can do the organizing and mopping and wiping, and clean the stove and the cat litter and bathtub while you're at it cause I need to relax and wash your nasty grins from my memory!!!

At this moment, I am wishing I were better at visual art. I would love to draw or paint my image of these I could then light them on fire! It's the Taskmaster who holds me back. Who tells me I'm not an artist - not the 'visual' kind, anyway. "Your mother is an artist. Your sister, Devon, is an artist. Even your sister, Naomi - the most 'practical' one of you - is an artist. But YOU? No, stick to theatre and writing. No point in going past your comfort zone because they'll only laugh at you anyway. What a waste of your time."

I once did a workshop with kids to address these 'nay-sayers' in our minds. We brainstormed our 'vault' thoughts, then transformed them into our 'encouragement box,' and drew pictures of our destructors, then ripped them into a hundred pieces. It was a very gratifying day. I think I need to give myself this workshop. :) But then, right away, I hear VOR-tex, "How are you ever going to find the time??" Don't you have other things you would rather do? Wouldn't you rather write or work on your scrapbook? Or memorize those lines for the show - time is ticking! Or what about those elevator quotes you've been meaning to do for 2 years now?" (he chuckles to himself.)

DAMMIT VOR-tex! I am going to MAKE the time. I DESERVE an art picnic. In fact, my beau also deserves an art picnic. When the baby is in bed, we are going to have an art picnic and you and the Taskmaster are going to zip your lips and MAKE US MARTINIS!

Yes, my dialogue with these two is a little harsh, bossy, demanding, but you know what? I don't care. I don't have to be nice to them. I don't have to be patient with them. I certainly don't intend to send them on a vacation - they don't deserve it! After all this time of oppressing me, they can handle the backlash. They don't have a sensitive bone in their body. They can handle the raw truth. And it's time for me to stop being a blind doormat and give it to them!

Take that, VOR-tex! Take THAT, Taskmaster! My sword and my shield are OUT. I am Brittany Knight after all. Time to SHINE that metal I'm made of.

afterword: i recognize here that i like to complete every blog, every story, every poem in my life with a 'happy', uplifting, motivational ending. this is funny because in artistic mediums - movies, fairy tales, songs - i am not into happy endings. i like the muck, i like the conflict, the indecision - this is why my blog is 'living in the in-between'. but yet, i have almost a 'curse of positivity' to end everything with daffodils. i want to spread joy, empower and energize myself and others. this means that my writing shuts out the 'unattractiveness of uncertainty'. i am not sure what to do about this. but i AM aware of it. any thoughts or insights would be appreciated.


  1. Oh I love it - making these ogres your housecleaning staff! Get a broom and make yourself useful - Brittany has to sit down and create something and doesn't have time to clean the apartment!

  2. It's hard to give negativity a voice. I was almost afraid to do this week. Would it make the gremlins stronger. No, I fought back and feel better for it. Keep fighting for yourself!

  3. You go Brittany Knight! I will join you in that fray with my steel-toed boots! :)

  4. Oh, Brittany. I'm going to borrow vortex to clean! Good for you -- kick their *** and send them on their way. YOU GO GIRL!

  5. Super excellent post, Brittany. You really have some gumption! I like the way you gave those nay-sayers some attitude.
    In your afterword, you mentioned your "curse of positivity." I can relate. You are fighting your shadow - the dark side. There's nothing wrong with a little balance to even things out a bit.
    Keep up the shining efforts!

  6. Love this post! You tell 'em girl! Time to start kickin' butt and takin' numbers, and I think you got their number pegged.

    You HAVE that art picnic and NO REGRETS! VOR-tex and Taskmaster start grumbling, tell 'em you see their lips moving but all you hear is BLAH BLAH BLAH!

  7. Your nay-saying thoughts have somehow inspired me. One myth in particular that I am fighting against is the "you can't make a living" remark. This struggle with money leaves me in fear more times than I wish to admit. Today's project is to calculate the average income I have earned from art over the past 6 months. I'm challenging myself to do this just so that I can possibly let go of the fear with the numbers in front of me.
    Such a great post! Thank for the wisdom you've offered!

  8. Today, I've learned to daily become the creative woman imprinted upon my soul!

  9. Wow! Blow me away, gd good post! I know the feeling-I think- - always ending positive, for me, perhaps, is to not create obligation on the party reading or maybe to show that I'm strong and fine, and it may be a safety factor, no showing of the vulnerable underbelly so to speak; everybody be happy, I'll take care of you and you don't have to think I'm whining...mmm -- just my thoughts --