Friday, January 27, 2012

Being Vulnerable and Wise Words from Stuart Smalley

Yesterday, a student asked me. "Why are artists always portrayed as being depressed? And why is it supposedly THE thing that makes them great artists?"

I wish I could say I had a stellar answer to this question. I didn't. Because, you see, I've been feeling a bit vulnerable as an artist myself. A bout with some strange illness left me feeling vulnerable in body while being on submission has left me vulnerable in spirit.

It's not huge. It's not soul eating. I have a better grip on reality than some. But there's still that little ping, like your cell phone announcing a text. A teensy energy zap that snakes out and makes you sit up straighter and listen a little harder. It says, "Oh, so and so's book got bought last week." Zap. "Wow, so and so had a foreign rights deal this week." Zap. "Oh look, so and so's agent is bragging about them on Twitter." Zap.

Enter the black cloud of artist dementors.

No. No. Stop. Blow back breath filled with light and unicorn kisses. Right? We're not supposed to talk about this stuff. We're supposed to be dressed up in little skirts and pompoms and tops that have huge "P's" for Publishing emblazoned on them shouting how great we are. How great they are. How great we all are.

So, for anyone else out there in creative brain land squirming with the swarmy mess that is vulnerability, insecurity, even envy. Stop. Pet some puppies. And by all means, channel Stuart Smalley.


  1. HAHA! You made my morning with that video:) And I'm headed to pet my little doggie now:)

  2. I woman, I am so feeling this!! Already petted 3 doggie heads this morning...not quite enough! :-)

  3. Sometimes I think intense emotions create intense art. Maybe that is why? I tend to swing to the happy end :)

  4. We all need Stuart Smalley's quote now and again. I think living a creative life means there will always be some tension. We may not be tortured in the real sense of the word, but there are dark moments, for sure.

  5. Thinking about this reminds me of all the "crazy" scientists I've met over the years. Depression and its ilk doesn't just lurk in the creative life (or, perhaps it's in how one defines creative). Boy have I met some strange physicists... Anyhow, that's was random :) Chin up though--that's the only way to keep going!

  6. I know personally, when I'm down or my meds are off and I feel depressed, I write better. I can pull from this reservoir of nasty raw emotion and lay it down "on paper." It tends to be more powerful, more visceral, more compelling that the stuff I write otherwise.

    But I can't stay down there for long either.


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