The Elephant On The Page

Here’s a drawing I started this morning. It’s the first I’ve done in a while. I judge myself constantly, as an artist, as a writer, as a human being. It is this judging that holds me back from creative practice.

This elephant on the page is a recurring theme in my life. It is the idea that if it’s not going to be as good as the last thing I did, then it’s not worth doing. This is a big reason why I often reach a point with my creativity where things feel like they’re going very well, but then I stop because it feels like it’s all going to go downhill from there. The next art piece isn’t going to be as good as the last one. The next post isn’t going to shine. The next chapter is going to be crap.

So a mental block forms in my mind, entirely created by my mind. Then soon enough, because I’ve fallen out of practice, if I find myself with that desire to create, I look at the blank page and feel clueless about what to put on it. Where are the words? Where’s the story? Where’s the image? What do I want to write, draw, think?

It would almost be better to never share what I write or draw or paint, because then who would see any of the substandard work but me? But if I’m only creating for myself, I don’t feel the same inspiration. The art, regardless of medium, feels like a service. Perhaps it’s a service for myself, but it also feels like something I’m doing to give others a little pause from everything else going on in life. Here’s a story to distract you. It won’t win a prize, but it might entertain you before you tackle the laundry. Here’s a drawing. It’s might not wow you the way so many artists’ work wows me, but it’s something other than a negative social media status shared, it’s something other than the news that brings us down. Although we need to do our laundry and we need to know what’s going on in the world rather than shield our gaze, we also need art. We need the words, the images, the scribbling, the good art and the bad art. Sometimes it’s the bad art I especially like, if you can see a lot of heart in it.

So I guess today I’ll share. Here’s an elephant, unfinished. I’ll give him another leg later. Here’s a post, short and not so sweet, but real.

By J. Parrish Lewis

J. Parrish Lewis was born and raised in Maryland. In his youth there, he and his brother had many adventures in the dogwood forests near his home. His nostalgia for these adventures has strongly influenced his characters, their relationships, and their perspective on the world they inhabit. He moved to California’s coast to earn his degree in communications and now lives with his family in the San Joaquin Valley. Lewis is profoundly deaf and uses American Sign Language to communicate. He enjoys hazelnut coffee, captioned movies, and walking his dog.

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