I spoke to a group of women a couple of weeks ago and my talk focused on creativity. A few months before I was having drinks with a friend who is a designer and we were talking about what I should do next. She said, "When you're creative, you just have to see where the energy takes you." I agreed with her sentiment, but I thought she was talking about herself. I waited for the segue into her advice for me, then I realized that she thought I was creative.
It's not how I thought of myself. I thought of myself as organized, administrative, logical. This one conversation sent me down a path, less of discovery than recognition. I began to think about how we have these invisible tags safety-pinned to our psyche and how they steer us and inhibit us as we move through our lives.
When I write I know that I will start from a place of chaos and that, eventually - usually just on or past deadline - everything will click in my head and I will begin to rearrange the words that had henceforth been higgledy-piggledy into some sort of order.
But when I decorate or draw or paint, I often begin in insecurity. I begin convinced that I won't be able to do it, but that I can always tidy up whatever mess I make. This is how I felt after the daisies. That the entire project was all wrong. That I could not do it. That I was in over my head. Very clearly, I knew that I was not an artist.
What I did was not give up, but keep going. I'm less fearless than stubborn. I realized later, that this adjective - creative - that I refused to give myself, was based less in reality than in a poorly defined concept of what it is to create. As we look at paintings and the glossy pages of magazines, we forget that things do not always go well the first time. The best outcomes are often the result of painting over, of trying again, of recognizing our shortcomings and giving it another go. What a shame it would have been to give up because of a few unfortunate daisies and never know the joy of having a pink dining room decorated with enormous blooms.