Mistakes, Failures, Fears and Blogs

Many of my coaching clients think I live a charmed life. I’m so patient. I have such insight. How could my life not be bliss-laden and peaceful? When I sold my artwork at art festivals people would come up to me and say, “You are so lucky! You get to do fun things all day long, never have a worry in the world.” I learned to reply, “Yes, I do get to make art, and I’m grateful every day.” I never yelled at them, “Do you have any idea how hard it is to come up with idea and make a bunch of mistakes before your figure it out and then fix it before it works?” I did not do that because I would not have ever sold another piece in my entire art festival existance.

Coldfront reflected in a puddle after the rain.

Other people’s lives seem easier, less stressed, not as hard, and certainly not as complicated as our own. That’s a better thing to believe than that everyone’s life could be sold as damaged seconds and someone else would be foolish enough to snap it up.

Years ago, I wanted to write a memoir for my son, so he would know that my first phone number had only four digits, and how hard it was for my parents to manage as immigrants to this country. But those stories would not have caught his imagination.

I also wanted to tell him that I’ve made huge mistakes, did not learn from them the first time, made them again. That I’ve felt despair, had people turn against me for reasons I could not understand (and a few I understood quite clearly, but it still hurt), was rattled by anxiety, stupidity, and, on occasion, incredible insight that I ignored and ran amuck. Again.

The reason this blog has insights, tips, Aha! moments and how-to’s is because I made the mistakes it took to learn them. All of them. Several times over. And I thought this was more important for my son—or any reader—to know that it’s not how often you feel stupid, but how often you get up, dust yourself off and start over. I want him to know that learning is the heart of creativity, that leading a creative life comes from making mistakes and saying, “Huh, I wonder if. . .”

My life is imperfect, and yet I am satisfied. Because I am perfectly imperfect and for right now, that will do just fine. In my next life. . . well, let me get through this one, first.

-Quinn McDonald is a writer and certified creativity coach. Her book, Raw Art Journaling, Making Meaning, Making Art, will be published in June, 2011 by North Light Books.