K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick! (bop_radar) wrote,
K, Bop or Boppy--take your pick!
bop_radar

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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.
Tags: personal, vidding
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  • 19 comments

  • Vidspiration

    FINALLY!!! Have vid idea for expressing what I feel I need to about Game of Thrones! But will it translate at all to others? And do I care?

  • Celebrating!

    Getting ready for freece's book launch of Captive Prince, and listening to her interview on Melbourne's JOY FM... So proud of my BFF! \o/ This…

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