I belong to a few photography Meetup and Facebook groups. There are often calls for photographs for contests or gallery shows. I occasionally think that would be kind of fun. But just as soon as I do, that other critical voice (OCV) which lives in my head says, “Why bother? Yeah, your work is decent, but there will be so many images that are better than yours, anyway. Besides, you don’t have time to go through thousands of images to figure out what you would enter. Just forget it.” And no matter what anyone else might say about my photographs, the OCV is louder and more persuasive. So I cave and put that little spark out of my mind, returning to my wannabe life.
Since the beginning of this year, the thought of maybe entering something – anything – has knocked on my mental door again. The OCV is ever ready to slam that door, hard and fast, but something different happened this time. I was invited. I was invited by another local photographer to enter a couple of pieces in a gallery showing. Specific photos she chose.
Funny how a real, live, personal invitation changes things. Not to minimize the people who have complimented my work, but this somehow gave me validation. I know – I shouldn’t need that, should I? My photographer approval rating should not come from other people. But in my shallow, not-at-all-confident-in-my-work sort of way, I guess it does. But this? For me, this was huge.
So I called her. And got the details. And did a happy dance. On the inside, apparently. Kind of weird, as I’m a fairly expressive person. John was ready to do the happy dance for me since he thought I wasn’t.
I needed titles for my photos. I also need to provide her with a price. A price?!? Oh my. That’s the worst. I am no more able to appropriately price my work than twirl pirouettes on the tip of the Chrysler Building. One title came easily. The other, not so much. The pricing? Well, I’ll come up with something. Lower than others might think I should. But for the girl with the OCV it’ll be the best I can do.
Just finished reading this article – We’re All Failures.
Wow. She totally nailed so much of what I struggle with. Not all the struggles are identical. But this line in particular…
I’LL SIT AT MY DESK FOR HOURS
ACCOMPLISHING NOTHING OF ANY SIGNIFICANCE, JUST BEATING MYSELF UP FOR BEING SO TERRIBLE AT EVERYTHING.
Kind of how I feel on those days
Yeah. I hate living there. And I do it far too often. The thing is that the internet and its little minions (like Facebook, in particular) mostly suck the creativity out of me. But it’s like a moth to a flame – me being absorbed into not only Facebook, but all the linkage and bunny trails. I go read something which links somewhere else and then I love that person’s writing/ideas/photography/art/whatever so I then spend an hour (or more) trolling the archives since I’ve only just discovered them. I think how cool/creative/artistic this person is and I wish I were equally so.
And then, because I have a tab open to Facebook, the siren call of 6 notifications lures me away. Oh. I’d better go check those. Maybe someone commented on my sunset picture. Or something. Or maybe there’s a private message I *need* to read. Hey, I wonder if this new cool/creative/artistic person is on Facebook? Maybe I should follow. Or troll around their Facebook page.
Wait. Where was I? Why did I sit down here an hour and a half ago?
Sadly, I probably have no idea.
Nor have I likely accomplished much of anything of value.
I hate being creatively dry. But what do I expect when I fill my head with mostly pointless fluff? When I don’t take at least invest some of my online time in something with greater substance and depth? When I don’t give myself time to create. Whatever that may be.
I know what the obstacles look like. I know their names. I know I need to just step away. How do I make that happen? How do I remain engaged yet make the time to pull away and be refreshed and recharged, creatively? Especially when the other problem with the internet gremlins is that they exist in a time warp. It may feel like 15 minutes, but it strangely morphs into 75 minutes. Or half a day. They’re very tricksy like that.
Life will get busier during the holidays, which will automatically keep me away a little more than normal. But I need to create some habits which will better serve me in the future. Habits that include far less time consumed with Facebook, random links, and the like. Habits that will free up some time for creating. Getting outside. Just being.
I am always in awe as I watch a talented potter with clay on a wheel. These particular potters are master craftsmen and their skills are amazing.
It will take awhile to both watch the video and read my post. The video is definitely worth the almost seven minutes of time. Hopefully my words are worth the time, too.
God has some beautiful parallels in the story of the potter and the clay. Having seen the presentation by Potter’s Field Ministries numerous times during the past 20 years, I’m always blown away by what He teaches me through it. While there are many lessons, these are the things that stood out to me as I watched the above video.
- Great repetitive pressure is required to form the clay into the desired vessel. The clay spins on the wheel and the potter continues to press and mold and shape it into a piece of pottery for a specific purpose.
- In order to be a useful vessel, that which weighs it down must be removed (the gunk inside) or stretched out to make it able to contain something. A pitcher is only functional when it has the ability to hold something which can be poured out for others. But if the inside were solid, there would be little purpose besides perhaps in being a door stop. One pot had a hole cut into it in order to attach a spout, making it lovelier in form and practical in purpose.
- When it comes time to create a beautiful design, this is neither quick, easy, or comfortable. It takes a very fine, focused cutting away. Or perhaps a beating. No, I’m not saying that God beats and cuts us. But life does. Sometimes the cuts are just on the surface, other times, they cut clear through. Is there anything more beautiful than a person who stays focused upon the Lord while weathering the storms of life? When they’re on the other side of the struggle, still in love with Jesus, radiating joy, it is very lovely to behold. Some vessels were covered by paint after being cut into, but when the excess is wiped away, beauty remains in the contrast of colors.
What analogies have you seen in the relationship between the potter and the clay and God and His children?