Thursday, December 27

The Gap In Depth - Part One

Last week I shared a video on my Instagram: a two minute clip that changed my views significantly when I saw it the first time a few years ago; footage I have needed to return to repeatedly when the work gets tough and my confidence is low; a bit from Ira Glass titled The Gap. If you haven't seen it; or it's been awhile since you last viewed it, please see it here before continuing reading on. 

While this piece is incredibly moving in itself, and resonates with so many artists across all mediums, what I want to talk about is what happens in the gap. It's something I have wanted to speak on for years, but perhaps only in feeling like I've successfully navigated my own way through, or at least partially through the gap, do I feel like I have any authority in writing this.


Finding my voice, or working through the gap, which may be better terminology for this post, was absolutely one of the most challenging things for me.  I spent years agonizing, in what could only be described as pain. Frustrated, and like Ira says, disappointed, that that the work I was making wasn't up to my potential.  I could see I was more than what I was producing, but I didn't know how the hell to get there.

The dirty, transparent, honesty of it all was that I would look at other artists and feel a deep sense of jealousy. I would watch them create masterful work with what, from an outsiders perspective, seemed like ease. I couldn't possibly imagine them pacing their hallways, kicking things, pulling their hair out, or laying awake at night trying to figure it all out and piece it all together, as I had done so many times before.

And it all made me doubt myself.

It can bring you to a deep, deep,  dark place. I'm convinced this is where the term "tortured artist" is born. Falling short of meeting your ambitions over and over again will wreak havoc on a human mindset.

The jealousy and doubt made me do stupid things. It made me lust after what other artists had; after their success. It make me question my own taste and my own voice. It made it take longer to get through the gap than I would have if I had any sort of grace and confidence in myself as an artist at the time.

It took awhile, but I realized soon enough, that the jealousy wasn't "that's so cool, I wish I had thought of making that," but rather, "that person is an amazing artist, I hope one day to have the confidence in my voice to create as freely as she does." While the line between these can be easily blurred, the difference between them, for me, is paramount. The jealousy I was feeling didn't lie in the physical item they had created, but in their ability to create beautiful, authentic, genuine work. And I wanted more than anything to be able to do that.

If you are feeling connected to my words, if what I am saying sounds familiar, please know that in my understanding, everyone goes through it.  I believe in my heart of hearts that you can make it just as I have, just as others have, you just have to keep going.

Lastly, as I reach the edge of the gap, as I narrow down my voice, I'm challenging myself to find forgiveness. To allow myself the grace and understanding of previous stupid choices and of feeling jealous. Of accepting that they were part of my path, while I'd love to hide them, that they played a role in getting me here, and by opening up and sharing with you, that maybe you be able to get through it all with a little more ease.

And that's comforting enough for me.