Creativity is a lot of work. It isn’t enough to be talented at a thing. One must know about other things in the world, to possess an awareness of other fields and industries or a willingness to research and learn. And then one must be able to apply a creative filter to that knowledge and produce something worthy of public consumption. And, if one is creating of one’s own volition and not for a client, one must also be able to successfully promote and sell that something.
Versatility in creative trades is necessary. In our glorious modern world, writers must also be photographers, graphic designers must also possess web development and coding skills, actors must also sing and dance and do heavy lifting. Some creatives can switch gears elegantly and brilliantly. When I switch gears there’s grinding and scraping sounds and a bunch of unhappy people backed up behind me. The combination of creative skills can dilute the power and strength of a project or creative person, especially if those skills haven’t been mastered individually. I spread myself too thin, attempting too many feats. I haven’t mastered anything. I don’t have the patience for practicing ’til perfection. Instead, I flit around to other things with hope that I find something at which I am naturally brilliant. The trouble is that I’m interested in a variety of arts and crafts and I often fall prey to the notion of “Hell, I could do that.” Alas, hell, I could not do that. Or that. Or that, either, though I will convince myself I was kind of okay at that. I am not naturally brilliant at anything so far.
It seems impossible to commit to just one thing because of all the other things that are necessary in order to promote the first thing. You’ve written a book? Congratulations! Now make a website, start (and maintain) a blog, host a podcast, make a viral video, tweet, contact everyone in the media, host a party, develop all the skills that you would’ve originally developed had you not been an introverted misfit who turned to writing in the first place because it was the perfect creative outlet and all those other things are terrifying. To create a book, I write, I illustrate, I design, I package. To promote a book, I make videos, write press releases, build websites, create supplemental freebies. I exhaust every part of the Katharine. No skill left unused. Is it the work of genius? Do I have control issues? Or am I simply an impatient woman? The age of digital presence and hyper self-promotion feeds my creative impulses.
I’m a creative hyphenate. I’m a dabbler. I am a vessel. I am a tool. I wear a lot of hats.
But maybe I shouldn’t.
Right now I sit in a pile of my own mediocrity. Things made out of perceived necessity. Skills developed half-assedly and cobbled together from poorly written online tutorials. Great ideas destroyed by poor execution. I know just enough to be dangerous but not enough to be successful.
Eventually one has to settle down, pick a thing and obsess about it for a while. One has to stop tracking trends and following fads and simply work on one’s own style. One has to stop referring to herself as “one” because she inevitably says “Why are we so concerned with what Juan does?” That was funny once, self. (Ed: It never stops being funny, self.)
Can I commit to one creative outlet? Do I need a special adapter? Do you think I’d be brilliant at ventriloquism?