What To Do When Your Creative Work Isn’t What You’d Hoped

Each piece of writing illuminates. Sometimes the light is on process, other times on content. Sometimes it’s about learning why we say yes to a word, a phrase, or an idea. Other times it’s why we edit, saying no. Just like life – our choices shine a light on who we are right now.

And now.

This morning, a friend who’d just published his latest (perfect, in my opinion) blog post, was feeling that what ended up on the page didn’t match the quality of his notes. He asked if I could I relate?

Oy! Does the seeming brilliance of my mind always come out on the page? Hardly! Is this a comment on my writing ability or on the delusion of my own grandeur?

Perhaps it’s the over-reliance on language to convey our sensations, our wisdom. The magnificence of life is far better communicated by looking into another’s eyes while they share their story, or through tender lovemaking, or when inhaling the sea air on our morning walk. It’s fully taking in what is before us, deeply and with reverence. It’s why we have Art: words aren’t enough, except maybe Basho’s.

I often tweak each post, even after you, dear reader, get my latest in your inbox – for my clarity and pursuit towards fruition. You read essays-in-progress, and you don’t know at what point you stepped into the conversation. It’s like Matisse, painting the gardens of Givenchy over and over again or like hearing a funked up arrangement of an older Ani DiFranco song on a live album. Art is a constant reworking, seeing with fresh eyes and ears and heart.

I believe in the Wikipedia model – a constantly evolving truth. This speaks to my dislike of most journalistic photography – that we think a snapshot tells the whole story. What IS true in one moment is not necessarily true in the next. Truth is shifty, and ever shifting. Like Ani sings, “it took me too long to realize I don’t take good pictures because I have the kind of beauty that moves.”

Nature is fluid. “Capturing” reality is foolish. It’s thinking you bagged that great African lion on safari, only to mount its head on your wall and discover an empty prize, for his essence has been extinguished. Perfection lies in surrendering, not in holding tight.

Everything is in motion. Our unfolding. Our belief system. Our priorities, and yes, even our values. Let’s not lock ourselves into rigid forms, but rather allow our creativity to flow, flourish, reinvent itself, innovate, turn on a dime.

To my writer friend, I posed this, what if what was left behind needs percolating for some greater purpose? What if what made it into form today serves today, and what didn’t get translated was the “mother”, the starter dough for the next loaf of inspiration?

Judge not, for our creations are also our evolutions.

Honor what comes and keep hitting that Publish button. At the end of our lives the one song, the Uni – Verse!, will be beautiful, as it already is.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Check out this dispatch from last summer, another look at how each piece is part of the whole —>

The Commodore, a $3,000 Toothbrush, & Why I Love Maine

Leave a comment


  1. K. C. Mead

     /  14 March 2012

    I actually know precisely the sentiments you’ve described (very wonderfully and precisely, I might add) here. I’m writing a book right now and I wonder constantly about whether or not its actually a good idea to publish it or not as I know it will never be perfect in my eyes — but, as you’ve so aptly put it, “Honor what comes!” This is the way that we shall learn, grow, and contribute something (at least *something*) to the current and future conversations of life.

  2. What’s your book about K.C.? I’m working on one, too 🙂

  3. Leonardo da Vinci: “Art is never finished, only abandoned.”
    You are in good company.

  4. Jane Powell

     /  15 March 2012

    Excitingly perfect for right now. Thrilled to be here reading it and “seeing” you saying this. That constantly ever-changing roller coaster kaleidoscopic thing we call the moment is such a hoot, isn’t it?

  5. Once again, you are in line with my thinkin’!

    I love the idea of something percolating for later use. I have found that to be true, but have never put it in words like that. That also speaks to letting go and believing that this is all part of a process, and if we keep trying, we will figure out what our purpose is, what our voice is.

    • Stifled, often I think we’re in sync 🙂

      Sometimes I wonder if my voice is not define-able, but like art, ever developing? Or maybe it’s the just the adaptable quality of it. I don’t know.

  6. “a constantly evolving truth”

    This more or less sums up me and my relationship to whatever the heck my art is, and why my site is podrozny (which means “traveler”). It is why I draw and redraw and redraw again the trees of the Foxenwood, because they are never done growing and changing. It’s why I photograph, and paint, and string shiny things on wires, and write, and write, and write; because the world is ever-changing and I have to keep adapting and modifying in order to keep up.

    So glad I’m not the only one who goes back and edits her posts, too. 😉

    • It’s so comforting to find another traveler / editor/ evolving creator…although aren’t we all, in a way?

      I think this world is about stepping into our desires, which we manifest into being, and then refine, identify our next desire, and do it again…I LOVE the unending twisting and turning.

      I want to string shiny things on wires! (Do you like Calder?)

  7. Melissa

     /  30 March 2012

    The constant shifting and changing is precisely what makes things interesting. All Life is a process. Why should our crafts be anything less?

    I’m never sure what I think about Calder. Some things I love, some I simply stare at and think “Um, wtf?” Which, ya know, is probably precisely what it should be doing. Most of the time I gravitate toward wearables, but as with everything I do, there are also random copper webs and dangly things hanging about the house. 😉

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