Trying to figure out what the art world is all about and where you might happen to fit into it is a bit like looking for the needle in the haystack. At least that’s what I think. How do you deal with the opinions of others, whether they approve or don’t approve of what you do, whether they state it openly or whether they simply infer disapproval or approval?
I’ve come, slowly but surely, to realise that what I am learning about myself and how I am enjoying the creative process, is more important to me than a frantic searching for the approval of others. In my own small ways, delving into creativity is just a version of flowing gently forward in my life. It has some kind of organic feel to it, even peaceful. A big part of me does not want to get involved in competition and judgement.
There is a vital part of myself that, in no time, senses a clamping down on the creative urges that are deep inside because I allow myself to become overexposed to the criteria by which others might judge what I do. Then when I think about the criteria, it seems difficult to decipher at the best of times and the criteria will often vary wildly from expert to expert.
This is true of poetry in general and for me it seems to be particularly true of haiku poetry. I have very frequently signed up for classes with superb writers of haiku, who teach me excellent lessons.
But ultimately I think the full weight of their authority and often inflexibility causes my own creative urge to crumble, sometimes worthless, under the gaze of criticism. I do not dismiss the critic. I do not ignore his or her value. I do respect the perspective of others. I know they are teaching lessons that are immensely valuable and these criticisms are not, as such, attacks on my work. But if I veer away from prescription and expectation, what’s wrong with an unexpected outcome? I know I make errors. Sometimes, aware of the error, I choose not to change it because I feel that I am closer to the essence of what I set out to create.
I probably just want to retain freedom and that includes the freedom to make mistakes. When the magic is happening in the interplay between word and image, I don’t want to be telling my variation of haiga art what it should be doing. I just want the process to do it for itself.
To all incredibly accomplished haiga artists whom I admire across the globe, your enormous amount of technical expertise is stunning. I don’t think I could try to emulate you for the scale of your breath taking work.
Is it okay to simply want to do what I do in my own way, to trust my own process, warts and all?