There’s an exercise in Vein of Gold that involves one day dressing up as a “serious artist” and taking myself very seriously as an artist. (The subsequent task is to then dress up as if you’re having a blast and being playful and to experience the difference.) The point of the task is multi-faceted.
First, it is exploring the way that we desire to be seen as writers, artists musicians. The way that we worry we won’t be “real writers” if we’re not published. We won’t be “real” authors if we’re self-published. We won’t be taken seriously as artists.
Second, it explores the way we take ourselves too seriously. It pokes fun at the things that we are so so very serious about.
I think there will be even more to it, but that’s what I’ve got so far.
It’s 9 AM on Thursday, and I’m writing my first entry this post. I’m probably going to flit in and out of it all day. I’ll push it live on Sunday after I can also do the “playful artist” day tomorrow. I want to note down my observations of this day sort of as they happen. I’ll add pictures, too, if I can.
- My first serious artist outfit was supposed to be red and black. I decided at the last minute that red wasn’t serious enough, and I switched to grey and black. It’s very serious. I wore extra eyeliner, eye shadow, and a sock bun. Because serious artists keep that flowy hair out of the way.
- I have to commute by foot, so the high heeled short boots I planned to wear with my serious outfit were not going to be the footwear to get me to the office. I dug through the shoe-trunk, looking for my walking shoes and my hands touched red converse. My first thought was how very cute they would look with the black and grey. I had to remind myself… “That is not serious. I need serious shoes.” As I slid into the black flats, I thought about the fact that generally speaking, I do not take myself seriously when it comes to my clothing. Particularly footwear. (My everyday style is more Punky Brewster meets Earth Goddess.)
- BUT! I did find out when I changed from comfy supportive Keen flats into my sexy short boots that Shoes definitely matter in terms of seriosity. Naturally, my gait changed, I walked slower. But there was also a difference in just what kinda business I meant when I switched into the boots.
- I’m getting strange looks, and intriguing responses. The man with an accent, a black leather jacket and a book that said ARTIST on it held the door for me (it was a serious artist taking me seriously!). The man smoking outside the building said I had “great stripes!”
- The reason why I chose this day for this exercise is because I have a write-in scheduled with a coworker and writing buddy. We’re going after work to the swanky coffee shop down the road (the one with a drink menu 1/2″ thick, and a food menu 1/2 a page long). It’s the kind of thing serious writers go do, and the kind of place they do it. There are sculptures.
11:30 AM update
- Thinking about seriousness vs. playfulness this morning. I have stumbled across an interesting insight thanks to my serious clothes.
- Externally, I take myself – my appearance, my public persona, my personal life – very lightly. I’m generally playful, adventurous, free-spirited and manic-pixie-ish. I have a laugh that’s so loud it embarrasses people. I wear stripey socks with my skirts. I’m goofy.
- Internally, I over-analyze and overthink whys and wherefores. But generally, this is not due to seriousness or playfulness as much as it is just the way I think. I could be overthinking playful things (like throwing myself whole-heartedly into a game or a craft project) just as easily as I could dig for insight about every stray thought. If I can cartoon about it, I can laugh about it. If I can laugh about it, the seriousness is not an issue.
- Where seriousness is a problem? I take my work – my book, the things I produce at the office, the fruits of my labor – very, very, very seriously. I cartooned about it, but I’m still not laughing. I get the most wound up about the things I make. I get protective, territorial and rigid about them. Not sure whether this exercise will help me learn to relax that hold, but it’s a new concept that I’m willing to explore.
I generally play a bit more with creative things. I like a playful sort of easygoing approach to my writing. I’ve learned the hard way that if I’m too rigid, I freeze up. But if I’m a little fluid, a little gentle, a little forgiving, I can usually coax some words onto the page every day.
This was an interesting exercise, and I’m hoping it’s one that can help me learn to see where seriousness isn’t getting me very far.