In science fiction, whenever a character develops the ability to hear other people’s thoughts (like Parkman in the show Heroes), they go through an intense struggle to control their gift. If their telepathy is left unchecked, outside thoughts constantly flood in from all around, and they get overwhelmed with all the data. To keep their sanity they have learn how to control it, to turn their telepathy on and off at will. This describes for how I feel about making art. When I am “in the zone”, I quickly get completely absorbed by art. Before I know it, hours will disappear, and the days will fly by. Even after I stop working for the day, my art brain is still chugging along, toying with ideas, searching out patterns and textures. The never-ending flood of data can get too tiring, and I need to try to turn my “art brain” off. The trouble is, when I am not in the zone, I can have an equally hard time getting started. I can go for days, weeks — or sometimes even months — without a creative impulse in sight. Making art from a cold start like this is difficult, nerve-wracking, and a bit scary. I begin to question myself, wondering if that ability I thought I had was just in my imagination.
So like our telepathic heroes, I am trying to learn how to control my special ability. I am trying to learn how to turn on or off at will. I think of it like a glowing ember inside of me, which I want to keep hot without ever going out. I need to be able to make a fire whenever I need it, but I also need to be able to bank that fire, let it cool down without going cold, so that I can get on with my regular life.