Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Gift

"The Gift"
©J Licsko 03 14"x10", oil on canvas

 After reading the earlier post of my 15 Rules For Courting the Artist's Muse, artist Gail Sauter, brought to my attention the YouTube video of Elizabeth Gilbert's speech at a TED convention,  A New Way to Think About Creativity.  Elizabeth suffers from performance anxiety.  She has achieved great success with her last book Eat, Pray, Love and fears she will not earn the same respect with her next books.

Creating for oneself is hugely different than creating for a boss, to earn praise, to be the best, and so on.  Even though one's next rent check may be dependent on one's creativity, we must proceed as though it is of no concern.  Many of our most creative artists lived without sufficient support.  Van Gogh is the classic example, producing honest, and enlightened work that was ahead of his audience, and wouldn't be appreciated until much later.  Conversely, too much success, too fast, can cause serious self doubt which in turn will often push the artist towards artificial support in the form of drugs, alcohol, and destructive company.

Performance anxiety comes from the end result taking precedence over the joy of the creative experience.  Trying to create work superior to previous accomplishments is different from the inner knowing while you are in the act of creating that this is your best work yet.

Elizabeth reaches a high point in her retelling of poet Ruth Stone's story of how Ruth recognized her muse, how she fought to hold on to it.  It is charming, well told, and valuable in understanding the ephemeral nature of inspiration.

Gilbert touches on some interesting points and offers us food for thought.  She will settle down one day when she turns off the outside influence of accolades, opinion, and critique, turns off the inside influence of fear, self doubt, and negative thinking.  Maybe then, she will respect her own voice.  Maybe then, she will return to what she had before - a desire or need to write for herself.  Maybe then, she will feel the presence of her muse in what ever form it comes.  She will come to have faith in herself, and faith in the inborn gift we all share... to create.


  1. I could n ot agree more. The muse does not like competition, especially that of accolades and conflicting goals.

  2. Hi, JoAnne. Just ran over here after seeing your comment and looking you up from "Making a Mark". Love your blog -- you describe the fear of starting one up well. I have not yet done one -- yours has started magnificently (scares me all the more about starting one, though). Thank you for sharing this UTube on Elizabeth Gilberts talk. I found it quite interesting and inspiring. I have not read her book or know of her before this, will look for her book. Those commenters on UTube sure can be a nasty bunch, tho. I guess that is why blog comments can be edited. I hope it is not a medicore aside to say I love her style and the way she expresses her feminity -- since your art has delved into this, I wonder how you feel about this. Thank you so much for sharing -- I have read your entire blog to-date.

  3. I heard from you by Fabio Cembranelli, my yeacher. Your blog is happy and glad. I love your work. Sorry my english. I am following you.