Since I last posted, my creative tastes have charged full-bore right into sewing. Not that there is anything wrong with jewelry making (perish the thought, philistines!!). On the contrary, I still maintain my lovely boxes of shiny beads, but I suppose I touch them less often. This is the beauty of living in the current crafting/home sewing renaissance: it’s all there, patiently waiting it’s turn.
Something I’ve been pondering and struggling with lately as a casual crafter happy to play at making things is how deeply creativity is affected by anxiety. I had big plans for this summer to concentrate on upping my sewing skills, finally re-stock my Etsy store, and touch all manner of exciting fabric. (This is really what sewing is about. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.) AND THEN…my anxiety about the unknowns of an upcoming transition my husband and I are working toward took over. I fell into a creative depression in July. Then I was horribly sick and too weak to create on any single day of August. (No exaggerations. ANY. SINGLE. DAY.) This did leave me plenty of time to ponder July’s lack of creative oomph, though.
Now, I have the luxury of not having to depend on my crafting creativity to feed us. So when I talk about anxiety affecting creativity, this is apart from the economic need to slog through. In July, I felt torn between the now and the not yet, which made creating in the now a non-starter. August’s sickness helped to clear my head (not to mention the antibiotics) because I missed the whole process: the planning, the trial and error, the pride at finishing something with my own hands. The first day I was truly able, I was back at the sewing machine and feeling so much stronger mentally. (By the way, there may be a correlation between the way the flu and throat infection made drinking coffee untenable and my lack of creative juice. Just a thought.)
As I happily added some yellow thread to the new purse I had been dreaming of while feverish, I realized that being capable of physically working through a creative process, never mind the outcome, is a big part of my identity. The anxiety that blocked and inhibited that process worked me over a bit. (And look, sometimes we can control anxiety, and other times, we just have to work through it. I’m not now looking back and telling myself I did something wrong. It’s done and now I learn.)
My thirties are turning out to be really great for introspection.
The relationship between creativity and anxiety is complex. A friend of mine recently described her experience as a caretaker for her mother at the end of her mother’s life. While waiting for the end, she knitted furiously, finishing project after project. Once it was over, she found she has been unable to finish anything, like her focus has been scattered. Hearing this made me sad because I love her very much, and because the creative output that helped her survive those difficult days is not yet helping her work through her grief. Creativity is a deeply personal process.
What about you? Do you feel a link between your inner emotional state and creative output?
Next up, Creativity and the Self: Blogging as Risk
Reading Lately: the Tana French Dublin Murder Squad Books
Listening to: Fiona Apple’s “Daredevil”