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19 September 2010 @ 12:15 pm
Vidding identity crisis  
Recently I've been noticing and trying to trying to deconstruct the many layers of fear I have wrapped around vidding. What's become obvious is how deeply uncomfortable I (still) am with seeing myself as in any way creative. I've known this about myself from the start, and vidding always felt so precious to me as a consequence. But what I haven't always been so conscious of is the degree to which I self-sabotage my creative processes over and over and over again. Because I've been tuning in to the fears recently and trying not to have them, I'm noticing my behaviour patterns--not conscious thoughts, but what I actually do to stop myself. For instance, I recently started making a vid I've had in my head for about two years. If I'm being (terrifyingly!) honest with myself, I could make this vid blindfolded. I know every beat, I know every clip, it's inside me somewhere. For months I've told myself I couldn't make it because I was too angry, I didn't have enough distance. I guess that was true? But I can make it now, and I've started making it, and it's frighteningly easy. So frightening, apparently, that I am doing all sorts of shit to get out of it. So far, during attempted-vidding sessions, I have:
- lost one of the DVDs I needed
- ripped everything the wrong way and had to do it all over again
- got drunk
- started watching other people's vids instead
- got drunk again
- started watching TV eps 'just while it renders' (er, for 30 seconds?) and never gone back to the timeline
- started reading instead
- suddenly decided it was PRESSINGLY important that I do other things on my 'to do' list, even though I'd agreed with myself that putting time aside for vidding was important.

I shouldn't be surprised by this really. I've recently been able to 'talk back' to my inner critic a lot more than I have in the past. Normally I shut down during vidding by overthinking things and by being overly critical of what I've got so far or the legitimacy of the overall project. But I have built up a lot of trust in my self and my process and connected with my love of it, so my inner critic is probably really huffy. So I guess now I've got the harder, more unconscious behaviours to fight?

Thing is, I've had these in me since I was a tiny child. About anything I made ever. I can list dozens of instances when I was a kid when I tore up, smashed, threw away or otherwise destroyed things that I made. Usually the prompt to do so was someone praising it. I ripped stories up when teachers praised them, I smooshed up my little kiddy pottery in art class when my teacher mentioned it as being good to my mother (they made me do it again but it was inferior to the first effort of course), I scribbled over drawings I'd done, I threw out my writing. I gave up dancing when I was told I was good at it and should go into an advanced class.

I can't remember ever thinking this was a problem--in each case I just felt very angry and wanted to show people that my output wasn't good enough in my eyes, which is what really counted, and that they were being patronising and I wouldn't stand for such bullshit. I was also capable of spontaneously generating such anger privately--particularly with visual art, if I drew something that looked terrible (as, let's face it, most kid's drawings do), I would scrunch it up.

Recently I was talking to a friend about this and trying to explain it and I quite calmly mentioned that I could totally imagine deleting all my vids one day in a fit of discontent with them. She was shocked and it actually surprised me that she was shocked, because to me this feeling goes hand in hand with creating something. You can make it, but you might also want to destroy it. That's just how it goes. At least in my brain.

I think this is linked to depression? I'm pretty sure it is, in my case at least. I can make sense of this behaviour when I think that I was considering the pieces as a reflection of myself, and destroying them was an attempt to say 'no! I'm not ok! I hate myself and it makes me so angry and you guys DON'T GET IT!' Which is all kinds of fucked up, yes, but definitely has the hallmarks of the insidious egocentricity and narcissism that infects depression sufferers. It also makes sense as an act of self-sabotage to keep me stuck in depression: don't produce anything good! don't accept praise! just live out a self-fulfilling prophecy as a failure! MUCH safer!

Central to my current struggle is my attempts to reconcile two parts of myself: the vid-lover/vid-viewer part, and the vidder part. I feel completely at home with the first part. I often think I should never have started vidding and just stuck to being a viewer/reccer/commentarist on vids instead. I'm good at that, damn it. And socially it would make me a lot more comfortable in vidding fandom, because I'd be offering something to the community and that always makes me feel a lot more secure. The vidder part just feels so selfish. Like why would I spend time making mediocre vids myself if I could spend the time instead reading other people's masterpieces? It's only ego that would make me do that, right? Only the feeling that I could somehow produce something good?

Well, I'm not so sure that's true. I learnt in the last year just how much I love my own vidding when it's not out there for others to see. It may or may not be 'good' but there are things I want to make, for very personal reasons, and I feel more complete as a person once I've made them. That's a good reason to make them. It may not always be a good reason to show them to others, but I can separate those two decisions.

At Vividcon the two parts of my love for vidding never felt more integrated--probably because I hung around other vidders and we were all both vidders and viewers, and so I got to kind of borrow their comfort with both 'selves'. Also, to be honest, it was reassuring to hang out with people who accepted that I was a vidder (AND vid lover/viewer) and talked to me as an equal without having seen my vids. I honestly felt like my vids didn't have to be me in the eyes of others, which was a fabulous relief. Because I am way more than my vids, but as soon as I started making them I feared that people would dismiss me. Like 'oh, Bop used to write cool meta, but then she became a vidder and turns out she's shit'. What a silly thing to think! If anyone does think that, that's fine, but they aren't my true friends and they can just mosey off somewhere else on the internet with my well wishes.

I honestly think I've spent most of the past four years I've been vidding fighting myself every step of the way. Compared objectively to at least some other people vidding over the same time period I have fewer vids and have grown far less as a vidder. I'm not even sure I've clocked 20 vids. Numbers aren't everything but I do see most vidders improve the more vids they make. Sure, some people seem to explode into vidding with innate gifts, but most of us can grow and learn, regardless of where we start from. Yes, I'm time poor and yes, I'm a slow vidder. But how much of my slowness is self-sabotage and 'freezing' emotionally because I'm so fucking scared of the creative part of myself and so ready to destroy it?

If I was giving advice to someone else in this position, I would tell them it doesn't matter what the quality of the output is, no one should be this self-destructive, you're only hurting yourself. And I'd say that trying to fight the impulse to destroy one's creations (or prevent their creation) is a good thing to do in terms of personal growth, regardless of what it results in. In answer to the 'selfish' argument (that it is selfish of me to spend time on my own work when I could spend it on the work of others), I would say that if no artist was ever 'selfish' no art would ever get made. Perhaps I can strike some kind of bargain with myself: a certain amount of time on vidding, a certain amount on feedbacking etc. But that depends on me actually vidding. I'm hoping this little post will serve as some self-counselling to smack myself into line in that regard.
 
 
Current Mood: artisticartistic
 
 
 
Sophie: cakealias_sqbr on September 19th, 2010 06:17 am (UTC)
That sounds really sucky, sorry you're having to deal with that and I hope you can figure out ways of working around it to be happy with what you choose to create and how you choose to share it (or not)

Would people saying nice things about you and/or your vids be helpful or harmful right now? Because I have some (sincere! Insincere compliments when you feel self conscious are a badness) things I could say, and I'm sure that will be other people's first reaction, but I don't want to poke at a sore point inadvertently (as often happens with me when people well meaningly try to cheer me up).

It's taken me a long time to come to terms with the possibility of being crap and to not let that possibility stop me making and sharing things, and it still paralyzes me sometimes. Ug. Brains! Can't live with them, can't live without them! *offers virtual cake*
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Pushing daisies make it betterbop_radar on September 19th, 2010 07:57 am (UTC)
Oh there are a million worse things to deal with! But thanks. :) Thanks also for you sensitivity regarding compliments--you are right that they can be problematic at such a time. I wasn't fishing for them, but I appreciate your offer. Actually just the companionship offered in your comment means more than compliments could probably! My mind is horribly sieve-like with compliments--I blank them out and forget they occurred (presumably as a 'better' option to destroying myself or the thing praised?), which is really rude to people who bothered to give them! So save your breath, but share the cake with me by all means, since clearly you 'get it' and struggle with similar tricksy brain issues!
Sophie: no hugs!alias_sqbr on September 23rd, 2010 03:49 am (UTC)
Actually just the companionship offered in your comment means more than compliments could probably!

I'm the same with hugs (another thing "everyone" likes)

There's always worse things, doesn't mean it doesn't suck!

brokenmnemonicbrokenmnemonic on September 19th, 2010 07:35 am (UTC)
Reading through your reactions to praise for creative works from other people, and your own resulting impulses… Have you considered that destroying the things you create allows you to remove the ability of others to influence you? If someone's words have no meaning and you ignore them, nothing happens. If someone praises your work and you accept that praise, you could consider yourself to be giving them a form of influence over you – their praise could be taken back at some point in the future, and used as a method to criticise or control you. Destroying anything that gains praise prevents anyone being able to give you comments with value or weight, and thereby removes that foothold they have in you – it could be considered a strong defensive reaction. So long as nobody notices or praises what you do, the only opinion you have is your own, and there's no risk of anyone else being able to influence you.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Dexterbop_radar on September 19th, 2010 07:49 am (UTC)
Huh. My first reaction was a flippant, 'me, a control freak?! never! :p' one, but I think you've actually hit on something really fundamental. I guess behind the anger, you're right: there was fear. Which... yeah, ok, I know where that comes from. At least I think I do--my father's praise always felt like a threat.
m_a_r_i_k_s: to the heavensm_a_r_i_k_s on September 19th, 2010 09:12 am (UTC)
I can't remember ever thinking this was a problem--in each case I just felt very angry and wanted to show people that my output wasn't good enough in my eyes, which is what really counted, and that they were being patronising and I wouldn't stand for such bullshit.

I don’t need your pity, Lee! (c)

Thing is, I've had these in me since I was a tiny child. About anything I made ever. I can list dozens of instances when I was a kid when I tore up, smashed, threw away or otherwise destroyed things that I made. Usually the prompt to do so was someone praising it.

Do you know exactly where this is coming from? When you were little, have you ever had people praising your work only to tell you it’s shit a bit later or criticize it behind your back?

I can make sense of this behaviour when I think that I was considering the pieces as a reflection of myself, and destroying them was an attempt to say 'no! I'm not ok! I hate myself and it makes me so angry and you guys DON'T GET IT!' Which is all kinds of fucked up, yes, but definitely has the hallmarks of the insidious egocentricity and narcissism that infects depression sufferers. It also makes sense as an act of self-sabotage to keep me stuck in depression: don't produce anything good! don't accept praise! just live out a self-fulfilling prophecy as a failure! MUCH safer!

You identify yourself with creative work products, but they’re not you. On the one hand you want to share something coming from your heart, on the other hand you say what you do is not good enough beforehand as if to make sure that others won’t hurt you first. When they don’t, you turn it into self-flagellation because it means you’re not shit (and you’re not ready to accept that when you feel like shit – everyone seems to be the enemy patronizing you or mocking you). You can’t accept either of those forms of reaction: nor praise nor criticism. You rebel because in fact, it doesn’t matter what your work is like, what does matter is that you’re somewhere in between, not that form expressed through you.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Lee thinking hmmbop_radar on September 19th, 2010 09:24 am (UTC)
I don’t need your pity, Lee! (c)
Heh.

I don't know where it comes from... I wish I did! I have tried tracing back in my head and I came to an early memory of doing it at age 3? So wherever it comes from, it came super-early. The best I can come up with is that being praised didn't feel 'safe' in my family--it felt, yeah, controlling and like a threat of violence to come. I guess I preempted the violence by enacting it myself first--against the things that got praised.
m_a_r_i_k_s: Lee_miniseriesm_a_r_i_k_s on September 19th, 2010 11:58 am (UTC)
Ok, now what you need to do is see how self-destructive and pointless it is...

When my sister came visiting last February I told her about my vidding issues a bit and she said that vidding for me is similar to painting/drawing for her - it allows to validate your own feelings, especially when others reject them. It's an emotional prop in a way. She said I have to be very honest about what makes me want to vid in the first place. Is it this desire to get praised? Is it the urge to make *that world on screen* more real because you want to escape this one/and thus to escape yourself? And I didn't answer her but I answered myself without saying anything out loud. And I know both reasons are there, and some others too, each to a different extent. I can't get rid of my ego, I can stop vidding altogether and pretend I don't have one, but hadn't I tried that? I was avoiding vidding till my anger subsided a bit or till someone else's pain got so withering I couldn't bear it and my anger became insignificant in comparison, but then there are still a million of emotions eating at me from the inside. I better let them out, I think. I know I'm far from perfection when it comes to motivation. The best I can do is try to train my ego not to interfere too much, like a stubborn puppy.

Seriously? As long as destroying your own work helps you to move forward (and not just creatively, but... humanly), I'm all for it. But it doesn't sound like that's the case.
m_a_r_i_k_s: Lee_miniseriesm_a_r_i_k_s on September 19th, 2010 09:14 am (UTC)
The vidder part just feels so selfish. Like why would I spend time making mediocre vids myself if I could spend the time instead reading other people's masterpieces? It's only ego that would make me do that, right? Only the feeling that I could somehow produce something good?

Why are you eager to be producing something exceptional? Anything exceptional can generate envy and anger from others if you identify yourself with that “exceptional work”. And then the distance between you and them gets more and more substantial.

Who is there to judge the extent of your vids mediocrity apart from you? Who would you trust?

Do do realize that by destroying your work once it gets praised there’s a chance of rejecting genuine concern and sincere self-expression coming from other people, right? You may not know it but by doing so you also reject a part of yourself.

There is this guy who kept pushing me, he wanted something I couldn’t give, was sending me messages and saying how wonderful I am and I realized at some point that I was getting irritated and even aggressive towards him the more it went on; I knew it had to stop, instinctively… and then I wrote him something along these lines (I really think something similar could be said about creative work in general)…

It’s natural for me to give people warmth and care in response when I interact with them rather closely. In case I can’t do it, their feelings, when expressed, only fatten up my ego. My ego isn’t me, but it’s a part of me that’s always there, and in one’s most comfortable state of mind it’s inactive, it’s dozing. As soon as I receive some sort of praise or attention, when kind words are being said – if I can’t pass along that energy flow, make it broader (usually a part of it settles in one’s heart, but a much larger part has to keep moving, expanding), so if I can’t pass it along and further growth doesn’t occur, then what happens is a complete wave crash against one’s ego, which makes it wake up, unfold its ears and start increasing in size, it may go hand in hand with your sense of self importance flourishing, and consequentially it may cause anger, greed, depression, petulance and a whole bunch of other nasty things, because once awoken ego always has to feed on something, support its importance – and it doesn’t care if it takes advantage of other people, in fact, it’s the only perfectly natural behavioral pattern it knows.

So I think in order for you to find balance you have to keep giving other people feedback *and* vidding. You said yourself you like doing both; and I think these two parts of you sustain one another.

I think your vidder part may become less selfish if you watch it closely on a daily basis. This post is proof that you can do it, that you instinctively understand that if you allow yourself to feel the way you do and work through it, it may dissipate eventually.

It seems like you’re trying to block the praise because if you accept it, you think that your arrogance will only thrive on it – like you’ve been there, like you know it leads to getting hurt, depending on others opinion like an addict or some other form of misery.

And btw, you can always get angry with me openly, ok? I can take it.
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Leebop_radar on September 19th, 2010 09:43 am (UTC)
And then the distance between you and them gets more and more substantial.
Yes, absolutely! And that sounds AWFUL. I don't want that, when you put it that way. Maybe it's partly why I've found my zen recently about my actual creations (even if I still fight the impulse to keep creating).

Who would you trust?
No one. Which is your point! I was thinking about what you wrote about ego in your last email, actually--this post is partly influenced by that. I like your description of the dozing ego that is dangerous when woken up. Yes--I block praise and yes, I'm afraid of being arrogant. I think it may not be that I've exactly depended on other people's praise in the past--more that there's a huge hole inside me and always was and it would take so much to fill it up and give me faith in myself, if I feel one tiny drop fall into the hole it just makes me realise how much more it would take to feel complete. Which is the HEIGHT of arrogance and demands on others, so I quickly make sure I'm not at all dependent on other people's praise.

I definitely agree I must continue both--and recently it HAS felt more like they sustain one another, rather than act in opposition to each other.

your vidder part may become less selfish if you watch it closely on a daily basis
You mean I'll vid less? Or that I won't be so defensive about praise? Or something else? It's hard for me to see how vidding could ever not be selfish. But if I could strike a balance, that would be really great. Most of the time I do ok at balancing both, I just wish I could stop self-sabotaging the vidder half.

I'm not angry--though a little shaky because you know me so well. I am very lucky to have you as my friend.
m_a_r_i_k_s: Lee_miniseriesm_a_r_i_k_s on September 19th, 2010 12:02 pm (UTC)
Yes, absolutely! And that sounds AWFUL. I don't want that, when you put it that way.

I know you don't. I don't want that either. The main solution I see is to try shifting your focal point from "creating something good" to remaining true to your heart in progress (I know you vid from heart, so it should make sense). As soon as you create some space between your work result (which is somewhere in the future, it doesn't exist yet) and the process, what you want to be saying visually each of the given moments - flight freedom comes, you get more inventive and crazy, intuitive when logic doesn't prove to be fruitful and so on.

if I feel one tiny drop fall into the hole it just makes me realise how much more it would take to feel complete.

Hmm... I know... I wish you could see that you're already complete. But then I could say the same about myself.

your vidder part may become less selfish if you watch it closely on a daily basis

You mean I'll vid less? Or that I won't be so defensive about praise? Or something else? It's hard for me to see how vidding could ever not be selfish.


No, if you vid less, you'll betray your own truth I think. What I mean is that the part of you that wants to vid, the more egotistical one, may become less selfish if you just keep "taking the pulse". Allowing it to be the way it is and still watching your ego closely is the first step of taming it, it's like knowing you're confused is the first step of finding your bearings. And yes, it might make you less defensive when it comes to praise. Just don't punish yourself for arrogance and such, it only intensifies it in the end.

I'm not angry--though a little shaky because you know me so well. I am very lucky to have you as my friend.

*hugs tight*
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: Kara/Lee solacebop_radar on September 20th, 2010 09:36 am (UTC)
Wise advice, wise advice!
Joyobraver_creature on September 19th, 2010 10:17 am (UTC)
omg, this resonates so much with things in my head and life right now that *I am actually kind of scared* (good way). And in my own narcissistic way I will thank you for your timing, because you've catalyzed some self-counseling in me as well. So if I don't manage to say anything else of substance in this I'd like to say: Thank you for sharing this. I realize/appreciate this was entirely for you, but it's helpful (a relief?) to be reminded that while one may indeed be a very special snowflake, one is not quite so *agonizingly* unique :)

ANYWAY, if I, having met you all of once, I may be so presumptuous as to respond:

But how much of my slowness is self-sabotage and 'freezing' emotionally because I'm so fucking scared of the creative part of myself and so ready to destroy it?

This sounds familiar, and answer is probably "quite a lot". You are probably quite busy, with time commitments that do genuinely take your time/energy away. However, I refer you to the list of things you have been doing instead of vidding (although you've at least opened the damn program, which is further than I've been getting). Does this happen with other stuff in your life?

At Vividcon the two parts...

Like you say, being around like-minded people can help pull you out of your own head. And more time you spend, if not physically around them then in their presence, the more you learn just how similar the sort of processes you go through are to quite a lot of vidders that I know. Your destructive impulses may be a bit more extreme, but do you find that tempered when you're around people who react similarly to things like "undeserving" positive feedback?

I've finished one vid ever, and I'm pretty sure to do that I *had* to have been ruled by some external constraint (VVC), or I'd have chosen any number of reasons to abandon it. I've got more thoughts on that, but I won't clog your comments with *my* introspection (though if you don't mind, can i reference this post as a spring-board?)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: TW smilebop_radar on September 19th, 2010 10:53 am (UTC)
Oh, that's great! That it resonates with someone, I mean. As you say, it's quite a relief to have some of these feelings 'normalised' by hearing other people experience similar struggles.

And yes, exactly: I do have genuine time commitments, but I also can recognise procastination when I see it! I run my own business from home and if I wasn't good at nipping procrastination in the bud I'd be broke by now. ;) I think the only other thing I avoid to this degree is ... housework. :p With the obvious difference that I don't actually want to do it!

I so relate to the needing external factors to kick one to vid! I find vidding for other people to be a big motivator for me--especially people who don't vid themselves but have a really cool idea for a vid. And I curse deadlines terribly but they do push me constructively! I do so much ridiculous faffing around when I vid. I doubt a tenth of the time I spend 'vidding' is actually spent vidding! But with a deadline looming I don't have to rely solely on my internal state of (conflicted!) motivation.

can i reference this post as a spring-board?
Oh, yes, sure! I'm delighted it's been of use to someone! (Other than me--I'm already feeling a bit clearerheaded myself!)
amnisiasamnisias on September 19th, 2010 11:24 am (UTC)
Just popping in to deliver hugs, cake and pot plants for your use as needed. I really don't feel the need to say anything else, because it feels like you started this post with a problem and but then you proceeded to reflect on it, give yourself some advise and now are contemplating various possible solutions. I'm confident you'll figure something out, and whatever you come up with as a solution will be okay. So, all you're gonna get from me is hugs, cake and pot plants...
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!bop_radar on September 19th, 2010 10:20 pm (UTC)
Oh, that's perfect! Thank you! :) And yes, I'm pretty determined to sort myself into line!
Mary: penumbra on September 19th, 2010 12:54 pm (UTC)
I absolutely identify with this -- with the urge to delete and purge things I've created which I deem 'not good enough' and I agree that it's probably an extension of depression. I've been struggling with this a lot myself lately, and I'm starting to see that it comes from the same place (and in some ways is just as damaging) as my actual, physical self-harm as a teenager. You seem very self-aware about it though (more than me, even) and that has to be a good thing -- I think that when you've worked through it and when you're more comfortable with your creative self you'll be more fulfilled and happy than if you continued to live a life of self-stiflement rather than "fail". That has to be the case, right?

K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: DW Sally Sparrowbop_radar on September 19th, 2010 10:19 pm (UTC)
It has to be the case! And yes, I agree completely that it comes from the same place as physical self-harm: when I'm really 'in' that destructive emotion, it has the same seductive appeal (and same twisted logic). I hope we both find a path through that--self-awareness is a pretty powerful weapon.
(Deleted comment)
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!: FNL girlsbop_radar on September 20th, 2010 12:18 am (UTC)
Thank you! You are good at getting me to interrogate the reasons behind these feelings! I agree--vidding is highly personal to me and since recently especially I really do vid for me and me only, it's even more absurd that I have the feeling that what I am creating is not worthy enough to exist.

I admit I refuse to feel guilty about it.
&hearts :) I should embrace your zen about this! Part of my problem is having too big a friendslist (with yes, a lot of vidders on it), but a bigger part is having this RIDICULOUS all-or-nothing thinking about LJ/fandom. If I'm not commenting on everyone's vid ever, I consider myself to be TOTAL FAIL. :p I'm not kidding! It paralysed me in fandom for months. I'm actually slightly better about this feeling than I was, but it stages some fightbacks pretty frequently!

If only the masterpieces were ever made (which is subjective anyway), it'd be pretty boring. This is true for me and I KNOW it's true for you too
Gah, yes, it's totally true for me! I love flawed (but interesting) works. LOVE THEM. They are almost more interesting to me!

even though it doesn't Contribute To Vidding
Haha, that makes me LOL! Thankfully I'm not trying to do that either. :) If I were, I truly would drive myself mad. I guess my problem with the specific vid I'm making is it's deeply personal and I think I just have to fight a lot of feelings of shame and embarrassment about the legitimacy of the feelings expressed in it. Like: deep, DEEP shame!

actually personally feel bad about your own vidding
yes, I do. I feel like it takes energy from the universe and other people that could be used in a more generous way. Perhaps at heart I feel like that because I don't think I'm worth spending time on. Because vidding to me is me spending time on me and my stuff. That feels selfish. I think I need to turn that thinking around--it's very similar to the feelings I had going to therapy for the first time, thinking how selfish it was of me to spend this time and money on my minor issues.