Monday, June 9, 2014

Conversations with old notebooks

Can I be completely honest? I've been putting writing this post off. Just like I've been procrastinating on every other creative project in my life. It's not a very good development and it's making me feel pretty un-awesome. There is one good thing that comes from my slacker attitude, though; I start doing other things to avoid writing/collaging/painting/taking pictures. For example, I spontaneously started cleaning my room yesterday. 

Looking through my overly-stuffed closet and re-organizing the pigsty that is my desk drawers meant that like a true bedroom archeologist  I dug op some objects from my past. Most of these things were either falling apart or served merely as an embarrasing reminder of my awkward past-selves, but I also found some true gems. And with gems I mean my old notebooks.

I have always loved to write and draw and tell stories in anyway possible. The notebooks from the bottom of my closet, that date all the way back to 2007, are the most honest testimony to this passion. In sloppy script and misspelled verbs I created tales about new worlds or my own. (I found an excellent account of my 6th grade compulsory swimming lessons. Hint: I did not enjoy them very much.) I almost never showed these notebooks to others, so the stories I told were meant for me and my enjoyment only. 

Enjoyment is exactly what these notebooks were all about. My clean-up plan was cut short, because I couldn't stop flipping through my old writings. The sentence structure was poor, the exclamation mark usage superfluous and the illustrations just plain awful, but they were so much fun too read. In every word the excitement of little me about writing my very own story is tangible. 

Although I was having a good time on my bedroom floor, a somewhat uncomfortable feeling crept up on me. "If I love it so much, why am I not writing right now?" my overly-active brain couldn't help but ask and that is when I realized something. The difference between me now and me with the old notebooks mostly (aside from a better knowledge of conjugations) has to do with self-conciousness. 

Lately, whenever I try to create something I can hear this little voice inside my head called perfectionism yelling: "It better be good! It better be beautiful! Do you even know what you are doing?!". Add being constantly exposed to extremely good art from others and you have me completely paralyzed with the fear of sucking. 

"But why?" would old notebook-me ask in reply. "When did creating start being about doing well or impressing others? It was all about fun, right?" And that is the moment when I realize that 9-year old me has more common sense than I do now.
She is absolutely right. Creating things is not my job, it's something those wrinkly grown-ups like to call 'a hobby'. It's supposed to be fun. For me. It does, in fact, not have to be good. (The Perfectionist shudders in horror.)

Do I want to write terrible Doctor Who fanfiction (because I think it’s fun)? “Do it!” 9 year old Sabine yells. Do I want to make a collage consisting solely of images of feet (because I think it’s fun)? “Do it!”
Do I want to make a photo series exploring the usefulness versus the aesthetics of the female body (because I think it’s fun)? “Do it!”

The stories in the notebooks I found yesterday are terrible, but they managed to make me smile even 7 years after writing them. I want all (or at least a lot of) my work to be like that, even if that means it’s not that good. Fun. Honest. Filled with the excitement to be creating. 

And now please listen to this song. Do it.


  1. Beautiful beautiful beautiful post. I'm the queen of procrastination and I should be studying, so I better go now :) KEEP WRITING!!!

  2. Oooh, I love the Mountain Goats! They're so darn cool.
    This post in general was spot on. I'm always judging myself, and I'm so afraid of messing up that I frequently don't even try to create things. It's so hard for me to be content with my mediocre work when I see people (cough cough Tavi Gevinson cough cough) making the most beautiful things. But I guess it's a work in progress, and maybe I'll get there someday.
    Great post, keep it up!

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