CREATIVE ENEMY #2: ART ENVY
by Janet Grace Riehl
Forget Penis Envy, Girls. Art Envy is what will do you in. Crank up the envy and watch your creative life drop dead in its tracks. It’s marked by a feeling of “If only…” and “Why not me…?” and “If I had…I could also…” and “Drat! Why are they getting the Pulitzer Prize? I stayed up later and turned in my homework on time.”
Maybe we envious types are sucked dry by our own envy. All that energy churning around in the gut instead of going into our art. All that attention plummeting outward instead of delving inward to nurture our art. They have the talent and we don’t. They have the support and we don’t. They don’t work nearly as hard as we do, yet they win all the prizes and get the curtain calls. What’s up with that! And, heck, if I had computer equipment like that and my own study. And if I had a spouse who cooks, cleans, edits my work, and markets for me. Well, clearly, I could be successful, too.
While some of us are more plagued by Art Envy than others, I wonder how many creative people in the world have not felt this way—even a little—at some time or another?
Oh, dear. What to do?
- Claim it and Name it. “Hello, my name is Janet, and I am struck dumb by Art Envy.”
- Make it funny. A close friend and I use this formula to shift our view of situations that irk us. “It was sad, really, when Janet was struck dumb by Art Envy.” I mean, really, can you keep a straight face. Not us. We burst out in rollicking guffaws.
- Up a tree without a paddle. Climb a tree with paper and pencil. See how long your hand can keep going until your legs can’t wrap around that limb anymore. Don’t fall! Be part of that Greater Mystery.
- Declare Victory. What are your solid accomplishments? Make a gold medal with a blue ribbon. Invite your friends to an Acknowledgement Ceremony. You do have friends, right? “I, Janet, really have done some useful things in my life. So have others. Isn’t that a good thing?”
Have you experienced Art Envy? How did you give yourself a little more space to be yourself, just as you are, with whatever you have and don’t have? How did you find a way to write on?
Pose questions about practical creativity; give ideas for future cycle themes; and join in the dialog. See the Creative Catalyst archive at http://bit.ly/9z1BQv. Learn more about our audio book “Sightlines: A Family Love Story in Poetry and Music”at http://bit.ly/aZVd1e. Become a Riehlife Villager at http://www.riehlife.com