Too Vulnerable To Make Art?

I have at least 5 drafts of blog posts on my WordPress Dashboard. It’s not that I don’t have time to finish them, although I have been extremely busy this summer. It’s simply that this whole blog is about being vulnerable, and the past few weeks I have felt like I don’t have any skin, like it’s been peeled off and I’m walking around raw and red, ready to be flayed at every passing wind. When I write, I want it to feel like this:

However, lately it has felt just too scary to push “publish”, like the lightening coming off my limbs when I clack the keys will surely bounce back at me, jolting me with electric shocks. Making art is such an act of bravery. Creating and putting it out there is the scariest thing on earth, as your very soul is on the chopping block. Usually, I have no shortage of courage, as it is a muscle you build over time, and I’ve done enough things that terrify me to know when it’s a good scared that means “Keep going” and when it’s the kind of terror that’s telling you to get the fuck out of there. However, I’m really struggling these past few weeks. I write things, save them, and agonize over whether they are the thoughts I really want to put out into the world. I pick them apart and use parts for other entries, which I don’t post either. I can’t say I have Writer’s Block, because I’m writing every day, just not publishing any of it for the world to see.
I am starting The Artist’s Way today with several friends, and I’m hoping that will help me find the bravery I need to continue to be vulnerable on this blog and in my life, even when I feel particularly sensitive. The last time I did The Artist’s Way was 9 years ago, newly married and struggling to find my voice. Going through Julia Cameron’s model for freeing the artist within led to many incredible realizations, one of which led me to move to San Francisco! It was such a wonderful place for artists and social workers when we first moved here 8 years ago. My beloved city is changing incredibly quickly, and I find myself at another crossroads, unsure of where we will end up. So, it’s time to go back to The Artist’s Way, and make sure that the choices I’m making for my life and my family are coming from a place of creativity and joy, rather than fear.
Would you like to join me? You can get The Artist’s Way at any library, or, chances are, if you’re reading this blog, you’ve probably got a copy tucked away in a dusty bookshelf. Whether you’re ready to make that commitment or not, send me a little bravery, tucked in a sachet of healing petals. I don’t want my tough skin to grow back — I like living with my heart wide open. But I want to be able to create art from that place, even when it scares me.

18 thoughts on “Too Vulnerable To Make Art?

  1. excited to be embarking on this journey together. you are unbelievably brave. and i am thankful for the many amazing things that you model in this world. incidentally, a previous post about yoko ono came to me in a dream of sorts the other day and the two of you helped me in some particularly scary moments. hand in hand toward the light.

  2. Enjoyed reading your blog. I’m trying to get out there as well! Scary stuff when your a very private person as I am. I have to remind myself to take little steps and pretend I’m brave! I’ve had book the Artist’s way for years now. Every time I’ve opened it I haven’t gotten very far, but I pulled it out the other day amongst my other art books that were in my garage and dusted them off! Here’s to living a creative life!

  3. I definitely agree with this feeling. So much of what I write is never seen. Sometimes I feel like my entire self is on the line when I think about letting people read my work (my fiction, at least. Nonfiction is whatever for the most part). I have yet to read The Artist’s Way, but I’ve heard multiple stories of how it’s changed people’s lives, and Julia’s Twitter page is always inspiring. I’ll have to pick it up!

  4. I’m in total agreement about the vulnerability of putting your writing, yourself, out there to the wolves. I’ve just started my blog and have a policy of not letting my blogs linger too long, not taking it too seriously. If I enjoyed writing the post, then that’s what I want to get out of it. Of course, I haven’t told many people I know I’ve even started a blog, so I guess I’m not as brave as I’m trying to be…

    • Your blog is seriously great. You should tell everyone you know about it, and then a bunch of people you don’t know. It’s excellent. Welcome to Blogville!

      • Aw. Thanks. I loved your body image blog. It’s such an inescapable theme in women’s lives. It would be interesting to know how third world women feel about their bodies. Outside the western world they have different beauty standards, but I wonder if no matter what, we are almost always critical of our appearance.

  5. Love your post. I shake as I type this comment as my fear of sharing anything is so fierce, but share I must. THANK YOU for writing. Don’t stop if you have something to say. ~There is something special about you and your words.~
    This post reminded me of a memoir by Lidia Yuknavitch, “The Chronology of Water.” Have you read it? It is great not just because she is fearless in her writing for what she says, but also because she is fearless in her style of writing. The way she writes is like no one else and is not standard form.

    • Wow, Elizabeth, I feel so honored to be the recipient of such an impassioned comment. Truly, I am moved by your statements. Thank you so much for speaking that encouragement into my life today! You’ll never know how much I needed it. And to add a great memoir suggestion? That just puts this comment into the “incredible” level. I’m requesting it from the library tonight! Thank you again.

  6. It is so scary to be vulnerable Rhea! You amaze me daily. I’m going to check out the Artists Way (I think I gave away the copy I had), and look at it again.

  7. proud of you for writing so vulnerably, & excited for you to do the artist’s way again & see what may emerge! growth as a spiral process was one of the biggest lessons i learned from that course, and i’m considering re-doing the course, too.
    thanks & stay brave! you can do this, and you have lovely, loving people and a lovely, loving God cheering you on.

  8. Pingback: Okay, First Draft Down. Finally. | MateekaLanee

  9. I found you through the wild madness of Jenny the bloggess’ posty/board/book club thing-a-ma-jig. Hallelujah. Rock it, sister. I super know how it feels to bare oneself to the world via blogging… I’m just getting rolling, and I have to keep telling myself it’s safe to share… that the world needs to feel through our vulnerability, because so often others can’t bare it… It’s pretty crazy that the more personal a post is, the more people can relate to it. Lots of deep breaths required. I so urge you to KEEP WRITING and trust you’re doing important work, because you are.

    On a similar note – did you see the “Things I’m Afraid to Tell You” posts going around? It was around mid-May this year. Awesome. Check it.

    And I think with that, perhaps I shall un-draft some of my tucked aways posts too. And also crack open my copy of The Artist’s Way. Thank God she’s so patient. Heh.

    With great big glittery unicorn sparkles,
    Hollie Olivia.

    • I love that you found me through Jenny L, that feels really magical and right. Thank you so much for taking the time to write this encouraging comment, I will truly take it to heart. I did see the Things I’m Afraid to Tell You posts and we did one at my writing group that had us rolling with laughter right along with all the soul-baring. What an incredible idea. Anyway, fun to find you in Bloglandia! xoxo

  10. Rhea, this is Amber’s friend. I’m writing to lend you and your family the prayerful support that I can offer. Amber and I know what it’s like to be in love with a city, and we agree about how awful it would feel to be priced out of ours.

    Your words are a refuge, and I hope you will keep writing and/or finding other avenues to express the Love that flows from this site.

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