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Head Up!

Amy Creative Journey | ICAD

ICAD 9/61 2016

Above: ICAD 9/61, 2016. A very out-of-character card for me—one I would consider raw.


Prelude: Written on a Sunday

Saturdays and Sundays have changed so much in my head. I remember when Saturday and Sunday didn’t feel, at all, like a break. Then, those days of the week were a break for everyone else but felt like increased work for me. Now, with work days spanning waking to sleeping through the week, as I rekindle my creative habits,  I am finding newfound appreciation of weekends, lazy weekend mornings, especially. Lazy in this context has nothing to do with time of day. Lazy is about pace. I wake early and get up early… and enjoy the morning hours with coffee, time spent at Facebook, time spent reading or sketching or list making or, usually, some combination.  It is on Saturdays and Sundays that I can slow things down and enjoy the slowness… even as I mourn that this time goes too quickly. I still can’t fit everything in. I am always aware of that, and I am always making choices and recognizing that today certain things can’t happen, that I have to pick and choose where to focus the time I do have. But, this morning, a Sunday, I feel the slower pace, and I revel in it.

To Share, Or Not to Share

Yesterday I did an impromptu list about the status of my ICAD experience so far. It was interesting to put down in words a few things noticed and observed about what I am doing. I didn’t plan the list ahead of time. The list wasn’t born of intensive and conscious reflection which led to the post. Instead, the list, and its inherent, on-the-spot, off-the-cuff reflection simply happened, and I let myself follow the list of I Have thoughts to see what emerged.

The I Have list was surprisingly clarifying, but the biggest breakthrough, in this moment, is my decision, finally, to stand up straight, head up, and post to the ICAD group. The breakthrough, for me, was the decision to share. I have been an active participant in the ICAD groups in terms of commenting on the work of others, providing meaningful comments and encouragement. But only twice did I share cards in the days leading up to the start of ICAD (June 1) and in the first 11 days of the challenge.

I encourage everyone to share. I fully support that even making a grocery list on an index card fulfills the daily challenge of using an index card. I believe in the process, and I know that for each individual and each artist, the meaning and level of importance to the cards, to the challenge overall, to the process will vary. I support that, and I encourage people struggling to find their voice and line and space and creative habits. I encourage others to share.

But sharing, for me, right now, feels difficult, risky, raw, exposed.

All week, I watched the conversations in the ICAD groups. I watched the cards posted. I admired and marveled at cards and techniques. And on my own, I kept up. I did my own thing (as always). I explored the boundaries of my stuffed bear theme. I broke my theme, but I didn’t shelve it. I stuck with things I often do for ICAD, including splashes of color, fabric scraps and selvage, canceled stamps, and stencils. At the same time, I pushed myself in other ways. I did my cards (even when I fell asleep while doing them), and I snapped photos. But I didn’t upload. I didn’t share.

Each day I debated. But I couldn’t face the moment of seeing a single card, alone, up for scrutiny, analysis, interpretation. And, no, nothing about ICAD says that cards will be scrutinized, but there is a moment of public show innate in the process of sharing. And that moment where your card sits, at the top of a stream, naked and alone… can feel exactly like that… a naked and alone moment. In sharing your card (or your work, your poem, your podcast, your essay, your photo), you open yourself up to the community. You may get comments. You may get feedback. You may not. There is a lot, mentally, that goes on (for some of us) in dealing with this process. It can be difficult.

But, I realized this week that, for me, not sharing was becoming a burden.

It was weighing on me that I was not posting, not owning up to my work (good, bad, unfinished, awkward, different, b/w, whatever) and staking my own stick in the ICAD ground. As each day passed, and each card finished, and others posted responses to prompts and themes, I felt my grasp on ICAD sliding simply because I wasn’t posting. At some point, I knew it would be hard to jump in and start posting, on day 25, for instance. So with each day, I felt I was sliding farther and farther from really being involved this year in ways I had hoped/planned/need.

Even outside of ICAD, I don’t post my work in the ways I did years ago at the outset of the CMP, and the nature of ICAD, the speed of it, means that each day’s card may or may not live up to what I hope or intend. They are, on the surface, simply sketchbook pieces and explorations on an index card. That is all they need to be. They do not need to be finished pieces. They do not need to be mini works of art. They should be part of a creative body of work and journey, but when viewed individually, I get stuck on the fact that many of my cards are really raw, flawed, half-baked pieces.

I am hard on myself, and being hard on myself makes it even harder (I think) to share my work publicly. I am realistic about what I am doing, and I am realistic about what doing a card a day means. (Tammy’s advice to not view each card as overly precious is really good advice.)  I find it hard to post unfinished, flawed work. And yet this year, I realize that posting is part of the validity of the process for me. (Please understand, I don’t believe you have to post anything to do ICAD. Creating cards for oneself is a legitimate way to do ICAD and, for some, is the best and most comfortable way. That is just not the solution for me this year.)

So, yesterday… on a weekend… I posted a few cards.

I took a deep breath. I realized that maybe no one would understand or appreciate my work or my approach or my process or grasp the time and energy and philosophy that goes into almost every card. I realized that my cards would stand alone and naked, and then might just slip unnoticed into the stream.

But I also realized that for me I had to stand up straight, hold my head up high, and let my work stand alone. A little voice inside tells me I have to do this to get thicker-skinned, to be able to deal with responses or lack of responses. Part of me says I have to do this to take the next steps in again validating that what I do matters to me.

I haven’t posted all 11 cards yet. Slowly I am trickling them into one of the ICAD streams. As I release them, they take on something new, and I am breathing more freely. It was the right thing to do for me.

By posting, I’ve stood up and said, “Hey, I’m here, and I’d like to be a part of this community.”

It’s a big step for me.

And now, breathing a bit freer, I am on to the next card… and viewing them even a bit differently… accepting them for what they are.

I survived posting.

(Thank you to a great ICAD Circle group!)


Note: I don’t need (or want) analysis of the above or validation of my process. The above is simply my own story and my own process… I know others go through similar things (and some do not). My voice on the CMP and as a writer has always been one of talking about loud about process and struggle and the philosophy of a creative journey. I’m solid. Whole. Standing straight. And I enjoy looking at and contemplating the inner workings of a creative mind, the good, the bad, and the ugly!


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