Written on August 21, 2014.
I was watching Julie & Julia with my family last night (we wanted a movie with a similar vibe as Jon Favreau’s Chef and that seemed like the closest match) and I couldn’t help but admire Julie Powell-slash-Amy Adams. She would write in her blog with almost no anxiety or frustration, just watch as the wit unraveled on the screen, no hair-tearing or self-doubt or loathing. I am sure the real-life Julie Powell didn’t soar through the writing process as easily but the onscreen version made me feel – yep, I’ll admit it – jealous.
I think anybody who writes – anybody who belongs in the business of creating – will tell you that the process is so terribly unglamorous. It isn’t Carrie Bradshaw in a stylish loft in Manhattan. It’s you curled up on your bed, in a shirt so big, it could be mistaken as the sail of a yacht, typing madly, hair messy, eyes manic, brain dripping.It’s not pretty.
It’s failed attempt after failed attempt. It’s comparing yourself to the girl on TV and feeling foolishly inadequate. It’s letting your emotions ping-pong against the walls of your heart. It’s staying up late at night and listening to your brain ask questions. It’s letting yourself be haunted. It’s looking for inspiration and finding that everyone else lied to you about it. Because it’s not something you stumble upon casually, it’s not serendipity — it’s something you mine. Something you pour blood, sweat and guts into finding and building until you are spent in the best way possible.
So now that we’re clear on that, dear friend, let’s make a pact. Let’s form a League of Honest Artists. Let’s not pretend that this act of making things — be it stories or photographs or fine-tuned friendships — is anything less than difficult. Let’s come together in coffee shops or dining rooms and remind each other that to take on the task of making anything is to do more than just dream. It is to exhaust efforts, to get used to the feeling of having stress perched on your shoulder, to make a million glorious mistakes.
And when the creating is done, when every full measure has been taken, it is to remember the last step, the most crucial one: to marvel.
To remind yourself that it it a privilege to be able to fill the world with a thing of beauty. To be able to add to the poetry of the universe. To contribute a verse.
Let our League be kind, may we be gracious to ourselves and encouraging to one another. May we never quit making, and when we feel like we’re at the end of our rope, when we feel that the towel must be thrown in, may we learn to utilize the greatest weapon at our disposal: collaboration.