I think of myself as a creative person, in that I find pleasure in creating, and I'm drawn to the act of creation. I want to bring into the world things that weren't already there. I know that to be true about myself, but why it's true is elusive to me (I suppose search for meaning is always elusive). Is my need to create an irreducible personal truth? Or is it in service of some other need?—perhaps, a need to be understood, or to be known?
I haven't found a great deal of satisfaction in my creative life. I start a lot of things and rarely finish them. I distract myself with incidental complexity, or other projects, or rewriting in Rust, and lose sight of whatever creative vision I began with. It's familiar for me to feel torn between a lot of projects, to feel paralyzed by the idea that if I was to work on any one of them I'd be neglecting all the others—which usually ends up with me working on none of them. I'm afraid of falling short of my own expectations. And hey, if I never finish a thing, it can't be a disappointment, right?
I want to work on that. On feeling more satisfied. I don't have any great answers, though: I'm struggling with it, trying to figure out what feels good to me, what blocks me, and how to be gentle with myself when what I make is disappointing to me. But I know that I don't want to stay this dissatisfied.
So what would it look like to be more satisfied with my creative work? And how would I take a step along the path to finding that satisfaction? Ira Glass says you just have to make a lot of crap. I hate making crap. I think I need some coping strategies.
When I think about the things I've made that I feel satisfied with, the things I'm proud of having made, I've noticed that it's the things that I've shown to people. Especially, it's the things I've made which others have found useful or interesting that I find most satisfying. I feel satisfied with saxi, json0, and hf-mission-planner. I'm proud of having completed Inktober in 2019. In my mind those projects are at peace. When I think of them, I feel happy with where they are, even if they're not perfect, or not "finished". By contrast, the far greater quantity of my unfinished and unreleased projects, the things I haven't shown to people, feels oppressive and restless. Those unfinished things haunt me and cry out for my attention, and I have to say to it all, over and over, sorry, today I'm not interested enough to work on you.
So maybe I could find more satisfaction by focusing on showing more work, on talking to people about the things I'm making. Although perhaps there's a correlation–causation confusion, and it's the case that being satisfied with something causes me to show it off, or that some things I make are good, and I'm both satisfied with the good things and choose to show them off. Or perhaps the feeling of satisfaction is primal, and the work incidental: rather than seeking to make things with which I'm more satisfied, I should cultivate a general feeling of satisfaction, and only then will I be able to make things that satisfy me.
In any case, I don't feel that my dissatisfaction is serving me well, and so I want to reduce it. Maybe talking and writing about things I'm making will help me with that. It's worth a shot, anyway.
Also, I should probably set fire to that pile of old projects. They're not serving me either.
I've written about creativity before: about shunning the empty promise of perfection, the doldrums and the wind, and about taking pleasure in making small steps.