This entire series of images, my first complete body of work, came from piece I wrote about how I was feeling. I just let words spill from my pen onto the paper with no editing--only emoting. Then from the madness, came the beauty.
I have nothing new to contribute; nothing original to say.
I have no bold ideas, no unique voice or style.
I am full of fear and doubt.
I compare myself to others.
The kids won't leave me alone. I can't think.
I'm boring--just another white lady, mother of two, barely paying the bills and
trying not to let the bag of salad in the fridge go past its fresh date.
I think my images should drink and swear and yell the truth,
but I don't even know my own story, and I'm concerned about upsetting my parents.
I'm easily distracted.
There's laundry to fold.
My body has become an asylum.
My voice is in there.
I want to claw and shred my skin to get it out, but I'm afraid I will not recognize it,
or worse, that all I will find are other peoples' voices.
I was fortunate to be asked to present what I had done of this series and anything I had to say about it at a monthly gathering of Austin writers called One Page Salon. Even while I was presenting, I was wondering if any of this madness, this desperation, was hitting home with the group of writers in the audience.
But of course it was!
It resonated with them because they, too, are trying to participate in the very difficult task of saying something that matters.
After I left the stage, several writers approached me to tell me how much it felt like I was speaking directly to them--and I was.
I still am.
I created this body of work almost in a panic, as if, if it didn't work out, if it sucked, if no one cared, my goal of being an artist would be pointless.
I am self-taught. I didn't grow up announcing that someday I would be an artist. I had only been shooting portraits for clients for a short time, and before that I was a high school English teacher, so, when I had that realization--that Oh-My-God-I-Know-What-Want-To-Do-Now moment, I felt like a big fat liar.
I mean, do I just start calling myself an artist? Does someone else have to anoint me as one?
I'm reminded of something Vincent Van Gogh said about self-doubt and the inner critic: "If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced."
So I did.
I'll leave you with one other bit of sound wisdom from Chuck Close, who says, "Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work."