March 8, 2010

It’s All in My Head

For the past few weeks I have been working on a multitude of sample boards and small furniture pieces as a way to kick start my faux finishing business again. Some of the samples are redo’s of past examples that just fell short, while others are brand new and shiny examples of some of the work I can do. I have been devouring shows on HGTV for inspiration and spending a lot of time reading through posts on the faux message boards I belong to.

One might think this has prompted me to be armed and ready to get out there and tackle the world. My business cards are printed, company bio sheets are ready and in full color, the website and Facebook image galleries are updated and I even have some fantastic ideas of who to hit up for business so, truthfully, I should feel empowered.

But I don’t. All I seem to let myself feel lately is that someone knows I’m not as good as the other finishers and that they will quickly discover I am a fraud.

Yes I am fully aware that this fear is partially irrational but bear with me.

For a long time, longer than I can even pinpoint, I’ve been running around saying I want to be a writer. I want to write books. I want to write for a living. That is great because last November I took advantage of the downtime in the painting industry to do just that for the very first time. And it came out awesome. I mean awesome for a rough first draft. Put it this way, I love my characters to death. (And I'm not sure at this moment if that is pun intended or not.)

Now that I have actually written my first book, however, all I have managed to do with it is a first round of edits (on no more than the first half) and then shoved it into a corner somewhere to collect dust while I go and paint for a living.

You get that? Paint for a living, not write.

If it ever gets finished I know this book will be published, I know it will be purchased because I truly believe that the world I have created and the people who live inside it are just real enough to be relatable but just fantastical enough that real people will want to escape their daily life to visit their alternate realm.

But their world is barely constructed and I’m already trying to paint it.

Inside my head my characters are wandering around trapped inside this box and they keep looking for the door but I have gone and applied a faux finish to every corner of it, so it seems they will never find their way to escape. While I went off and made a paycheck, I boxed them inside the inescapable world and now even I can’t seem to find the door back in.

Is this what (hooker/waitress/) actors feel like? They want to act so badly that they promptly push away the grand opportunity that comes their way in order to go and get paid to set plates down in front of hungry directors so they don’t get thrown out of their apartment?

So now I have this fierce battle raging inside me because I know that all my irrational fears that I’m not a good finisher are total and complete crap. I know I am creative and have come up with a whole slew of interesting and funky treatments over the past few weeks that will be a no brainer to install not to mention fun. So here is the real thing I’m afraid of.

If I pursue a career as a decorative artist, strive to make Chucka Stone Designs all that it can be and start taking on clients all over greater Boston, I am afraid that I will somehow sabotage my own success by claiming it “isn’t what I really want to do” and promptly start whining that I really just want to be a writer again. That’s usually when I crawl back inside my own shell and have a pity party for myself that I never let anyone else become privy to. Instead I talk about how I’m ‘getting stuff together” and how I’m “almost ready” to get out there and work it. I lie to the world knowingly but I’m no longer convincing myself that it’s the truth.

So herein lies the real toughie for me. Why can’t I simply do both -- write and faux?

Easier to ask that question than answer it. Well for me at least. The logical answer is that there is no reason not to. Faux all day, come home at night and edit slowly but surely; maybe even work on the book on the weekends. It isn’t like I have a publishing house banging down my door for this manuscript (yet), screaming that they gave me this advance and now I’m over deadline or something. Nope, it’s just me and my red pen, so timing really isn’t at all of the essence.

So what the fuck is my problem?

The short answer? Me. I am my problem; my own worst enemy most of the time.

I’ll sit here taking days to craft this blog post perfectly, and I do love blogging don’t get me wrong but as soon as it is posted the normal person would grab the 190 pieces of white paper, a red pen and their imagination and go edit for the entire day. Not me though, I am bound to notice one tiny little thing that needs to be fixed on my website to make it perfect, the fact that I never added that other picture to some specific photo album, that I only have 20 business cards in my wallet so those should get printed, that I should really practice drums, that I never did update the proposal form, that I’m running low on something, that I really should write 3-4 GLR posts to front load the week, that I’m hungry, or a multitude of other distractions which will ensure I look at the clock at 3:00 and utter the words ‘wow, can’t believe the day is almost over and I’ve done nothing’.

As is plain to see, I also never got out to visit any Interior Designers, Contractors, Architects, Real Estate Agents, Decorators or other industry pros in this scenario either. So instead of even going to make a paycheck from my decorative work as at least a lucrative distraction, I sit here, doing nothing.

Sure I know it isn’t really “nothing” per se. All those things do indeed get done, but I know deep down that my need to have Perfection in my life has taken over again and that bitch is costing me dearly.

I need to figure out how to trick Perfection to get onto the box, then while I distract it with discussing the cost of the beautiful decorative treatment on the walls (ceiling, floor, furniture pieces…) that they will be paying me for I can liberate my characters from being held hostage by Perfection (for what feels like it has been forever). Use Perfection to provide the financing for Ripple the Twine.

Does that seem like an unreachable goal? Honestly, sometimes it does to me. But others likely just see it as good common sense.

So what am I going to do today? That is of course the real question begging to be answered.


pastrywitch said...

Wow. You expressed a lot of what I've been feeling. Just more articulately. Is that a word?
I have no solutions for perfectionism (Hi, I'm Kate, and I'm a perfectionist. Hi, Kate!)
I think maybe the loss of a deadline is part of the problem with our novels. I'll impose one on you if you like :)
Go with both/and instead of either/or.
At least your characters are just stuck in a box. I set mine on fire.

Almost Precious said...

I've heard many people say that they organize their lives, everything is scheduled, everything has a time and a place. Devote so many hours or minutes at such and such a time to paint, sew, knit, write. Makes sense and I'm sure it works for some, however I doubt that truly imaginative, creative, think-outside-the-box souls can stand to be so regimented.

But don't give up on your dreams because life is meaningless without them. They are the bright shiny stars that we all strive to grasp and to own, the gold ring we reach out for on the merry-go-round of life. ;)

Maggie May said...

you are perfect in your imperfection!

ok sorry for the limey cliche :)

Bridgete said...

I agree that it may be the lack of a deadline. It's so easy to procrastinate when the only one who's going to notice is you. Maybe you should find someone to give you a deadline. Like...figure out a date to have it ready to be read by someone other than you, and then make sure the person you pick will bug you if they don't have a copy by the deadline.

Suldog said...

We all have doubts about our abilities. Even the greatest entertainers tend to get a bit of stage fright before their first lines. It's natural.

It sound trite, but Just Do It.

(Easier said than done, I know. But there's no other way to get it done than to do it.)

Shrinky said...

I prefer scatty, I'm comfy with it, as an ex-perfectionist, I highly recommend it for everyone (except, naturally for those who have to live with us).

Suldog, irritating as he is, is perfectly right (just don't tell him I said so, or he'll be insufferable). I find zillions of reasons to prevaricate, but I'm only cheating myself, in the end, I know what needs to be done, and I know only I can do it. Sigh.

Nice blog!

Rosebud Collection said...

I do think this is the way life goes sometimes..even though we want different, we can't seem to reach it. Then all of a sudden..nothing gets in the way and we go forward. It is almost like nothing can stop us. Notice the "us"..right now, I am in a dry spell too. We just have to keep trying and seeking what makes us happy..pull that book you started and reread it..