I look at the four rather amateurish artworks that I created that hang on the walls of our lounge and I’m not sure they’re any good. Perhaps we should buy a picture that would look nicer.
I share a photo of our dinner, then compare it with my sister’s food photos on Instagram. Not only does my food not look as tasty or well-presented (well, it wouldn’t – she makes a living as a chef!) but my photography skills are inferior too. Even my choice of plate! I liked that dinner service when we chose it in Sainsburys, but it seems old-fashioned now.
And then there’s my favourite creative activity: writing. I sometimes wonder when I’m writing, who’s going to read this stuff? Is anyone even interested in what I’ve got to say? And the big question: is this good enough to get published?
I love being creative. Whether it’s trying out – or even inventing – a new recipe, decorating Moppe drawer units for our utility room, creating little images on Paint to use in my Facebook group or writing a book or a blog post, I get so much enjoyment from the act of making something. But the doubts often creep in and ruin it. Is this good enough? Will anyone else even look at this, let alone like it? And the joy of creating evaporates. I’m left feeling demotivated, wondering how to occupy myself. Wondering why I can’t find the energy or the motivation to open up a Word document and write a chapter of my novel.
Yesterday Amy, a new friend, shared an image on Facebook. It was a photo of a book she had enjoyed, surrounded by an eclectic mix of objects. It was stunningly beautiful. Yet it was also temporary. She’d laid it out on a table top to photograph. She might leave it there for a few days to enjoy but then she’d put the book back on her shelves and the objects would return to where she’d found them. Only the photo would remain as a record of her creation.
Amy’s photo of her artwork unlocked something in me. Yes, the picture is very beautiful, but it isn’t its beauty that draws me. Her joy at arranging those objects feels almost tangible. Her photo made me realise that the joy is not in the finished product, but in the act of creation itself. Yes, I knew this before, but only in my head. Looking at that photo, I suddenly knew it in my heart too.
I’ve just embarked on an online novel writing course, aimed at helping writers to finish the first draft of a novel they have already started writing. When I enrolled upon the course, I was hoping that I’d get my novel finished. I felt focused on the outcome of the course: I need to finish this novel and it needs to be good. But since I reflected on Amy’s photo, my focus has shifted. I’d like to learn all I can about writing a novel and I’d like to enjoy the process of learning and creating. It might seem like a subtle difference but it feels like an enormous change for me. And a very positive change at that.