Archive for December 26th, 2022

Where Is My Mind?

GC Myers- Pursuing the Light

Pursuing the Light– Now at the West End Gallery

I only believe in temporary denial. You know, the kind that gets you home to get your act together and try again. That’s a good denial. The kind that helps you finish the audition or the dinner or the job interview or the credit application–the whole time keeping it together, cool and confidant–then you go home and rewrite your whole autobiography and game plan and prepare to take over the world. That’s good denial. But I don’t believe in denial beyond the period you need to cool down and pep up: I believe in revision. Garson [Kanin] and I both refused to face the facts. People didn’t like a writer or a film, and we both realized they were wrong. We were right, and we trusted that in time other people would join us. And they did! Trust your instincts and trust your taste. It will work out. It has to, if you have talent, and you can’t be in denial about that, and you can only revise your talent so much. Listen and see if people believe in you and want you to succeed. Then go out and earn the faith they had in you. Deny and revise. It’s a good motto.

–Ruth Gordon/Interview with James Grissom/1984

It’s that time of the year as we approach the final squares on the calendar page. It’s a period of time to sum up, to reflect on our triumphs and defeats, both big and small. For me, it’s a time of reflection, one that focuses on the work I have done over the past year, one that normally entails facing the doubts that seem always around me. I’ve written about this subject of self-doubt ad nauseum in the past so I am not going to go too long about it today.

One of the hardest parts of this job is when the work that feel you most passionate about, the work that you feel represents a step forward in your creative progression, doesn’t garner the response you feel it deserves.

Intellectually, it is easy to rationalize this since one realizes that art is subject to personal tastes and desires, that it cannot reach every person in the same way.

But emotionally, it feeds directly into a vein of uncertainty and self-doubt about your own tastes and talents. Mainlining, immediately in the bloodstream and throughout every system. The intellectualized rationalizations don’t stand a chance. It’s like trying to wish away a virus.

I have said in the past that getting past this becomes easier when you can fall back on the experience of having endured prior episodes of this self-doubt. And I believe that is mainly true. However, there is something to be said for the naive confidence of the less experienced, those who have not yet become gun-shy from the inevitable failures and disappointments to come. That innocent naivete carries with it a certain fearlessness and bravado that is important in the creation of art. It is exuberant, hiding nothing and naked to the world for all to see.

Nothing to lose.

That feeling is hard to find again as you progress in your career. You begin to shade things, to be less transparent in an attempt to protect and maintain what your earlier exuberance produced.

This creeping self-doubt is a quandary, a puzzle to be solved. If it, indeed, can be solved. Maybe it requires getting to a point where you feel you have nothing less to lose once more. A point where all is transparent again.

This probably doesn’t make a lot of sense to most folks. I understand that since this is more like a diary entry than a blog post. Just thinking out loud this morning. I came across the excerpt from a Ruth Gordon interview above and it really hit a nerve for me since I am currently in that No-Man’s-Land where self-doubt resides. It reminded me that sometimes it is simply patience that gets you past the self-doubt that has you denying your own abilities and value. If you have enough belief in your abilities and tastes to honestly produce and show work that is a true expression of yourself, that talent and work will someday be vindicated.

Changing yourself or your work for anyone is never a lasting answer.

Okay, I lied. I went on way too long for what I thought I wanted to say. Not even sure I said whatever that was.

Here’s a song to put a bow on this odd little package. It’s a song from the Pixies called Where Is My Mind? performed in an altered manner by the Postmodern¬† Jukebox featuring vocals from Allison Young.

For some reason, it makes sense here this morning.

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