Monthly Archives: June 2003

Arts vs. Crafts vs. Inner Critic.

Oh yeah, that’s me. I’m a big fattypants slacker. I am not big on the writing lately apparently. But if you ask me what I’ve been doing for, oh, the last MONTH, I don’t know that I could tell you!

I hit kind of a grouchy patch today. See, besides the rainy cold nasty spring weather we’ve been having, I have developed some Crafter’s Anxiety. Lately have been very so insecure that the crafty things I make (when I make things, which hasn’t been often lately) are not seen as creative work, or as something that is really difficult to do sometimes, but as just some crafts hobby that anyone could pick up at one of the Crafty SuperStores and crank out on their own. It’s the difference between bohemian intelligent artist and bourgeois crafty lady with lots of cats and possibly a chain smoking habit.

It’s not external pressures that I’m dealing with here. My family is very crafty. My dad, mom, gramma, other family members, a whole lotta people are crafters in my immediate circle of family and friends. I have a big group of supportive crafty friends and we get together and make stuff and talk about our differing approaches and work out any problems we might be having. I am not a lone crafter in an island of artists or non-creative types. I don’t actually accomplish much but when I do and give it away I’ve been really lucky that I don’t run into the damning-with-faint-praise thanks that I hear some crafters (and especially knitters) do. But somewhere inside of me is my nasty inner critic, the one who sneaks up on me and says: “Hey, you know, ANYONE can do what you’re doing. You’re not such hot stuff. C’mon, now.â€? That little guy keeps trying to convince me that I’m nothing special. That my holiday cards aren’t fantastic, they’re simple and too easy to make. That my knitting is of the simplistic and unappealing variety. That my clothing ideas are too difficult for me to actually sew. I am angry and sad that I feel so inhibited by my own inner critic that I don’t write more. That’s my number 2 excuse for having this webpage, you know, is to get me writing regularly (see how that worked last month? Yeah. At least I used the number 1 excuse [my very own email address] often).

But then I see people doing things, and even if I don’t like what they’ve done, I have to admire them for doing it, for risking it all and putting themselves out there. I even admire authors who are terrible writers because somewhere in them they have an incredible amount of inner quiet and strength, that they believe in themselves enough to put what they love out there and risk the scathing eyes of other people. I don’t know how people ignore their inner critics. Is mine worse than others? Do I just listen harder? What about all of those people who are such terrible singers, yet tried out for American Idol? Don’t they know? Oh, that’s another rhetorical question entirely. (These self doubts apply also to topics such as “but I’m an engineer, so what do I know about art?� and “oh, sure, I like and know a lot about xyz, but I can’t really be an arbiter of good taste. That’s just my opinion.�)

I was out with some crafty friends and the topic of Arts vs. Crafts came up. Someone (an artist no less!) said “oh, but art is always pretty much just masturbation.� So that makes crafts mutual masturbation, because usually you don’t make something just for yourself, but for someone else. I need to remember that analogy – it makes everything seem so much simpler, and much less complicated. It makes my inner critic seem silly and just one of those grouchy people who yells petulantly at inanimate objects.