Despite a widely held belief to the contrary, an artist need not be in the mood nor sublimely inspired in order to create. And neither do you. Of course, by my standards you are all artists, making the latter statement a trifle redundant (the difference between the artist’s life and the artful life is often just a matter of media.)
Here’s one scene: a snow-white, ice-cold canvas stares blankly at you from a rigid easel; it’s time to work, but you have no fresh idea, you don’t have that feeling, that mood. You begin to think the canvas is mocking you, judging you, but that’s just insane so you better move along.
And here’s what you do…HUWA! That’s my code for Hush Up & Work Anyway. Adjust your lights, select your brushes, and, here’s the important part, squeeze your valuable colors onto the palette. Now paint. Oh, maybe it will only turn into a learning session where you experiment a little, heedless of any outcome. But chances are your flow will be kick-started and your creative juices freed (freed from distraction, procrastination, intimidation, those are the usual suspects) and something marvelous will happen. Something you will be especially proud of when remembering the obstacle of emptiness that you overcame.
Here’s another scene: my beautiful, lush, indigenously planted back yard is about to be reclaimed and devoured by its own tropical DNA I don’t know where to begin and, quite frankly, I don’t want to. So I take myself outside for a little stroll along what’s left of the paths, and, just in case, I bring my favorite pruningshears with me. A snip here and there to the Florida flame bush and suddenly it’s the bush that speaks to me, the bush itself provides the inspiration to go on. Just like the paint.
My lovely and wise sister shared her version of HUWA with me, she says, “faking it is doing it.”
Now, now, before all you integrity freaks get your hackles up, it’s just a more honest way to refer to the act of going through the motions.
My sister and I had been discussing those periods most folks experience, when our grip on the handle of domestic responsibility starts to slip. It can be a domino thing…both in the head, and in the living room. Something must be done, because to completely let go of our handlebars is seldom the proper thing to do. So we make the bed even though it seems senseless (since it’s just going to get mussed again); vacuum the stupid rug and empty the stupid dishwasher (only to refill it again); and go through all those seemingly pointless motions despite their sour stench of futility.
Why? Why “fake it”?
Because one day you will once again walk into your home and recognize that it is the cradle of your life, and there is a masterpiece on the easel, and the backyard, full of birds and butterflies, looks more like a habitat park than a yard. The reasons need be nothing more than the results.
Perseverance is an invaluable tool for success. Neither genius nor talent is enough. A professor at the University of South Florida has this sign in his office, “Unemployment lines are filled with talented geniuses, rely on perseverance.”
Even if, occasionally, you have to fake it.