Wednesday, December 26, 2012

More on Myths and Muses

Firstly, Merry Christmas to all of you who pass by here on a regular (or just passing through) basis. Thank you for checking in.We rolled in home just ahead of what is supposed to be the first big storm this winter. Mebbe a work from home day tomorrow, we'll see.

This is sort of a continuation of thoughts on my earlier post - The myth of talent and the muse in the corner.

Have been doing some reading in the car and while sitting in jury duty as of late, and been thinking about how it all fits together with archery, art, motivation, expectation (yours and others) and all that. First off, "Finding Your Zone", by Michael Lardon. Great book if you are a competitor of any sort. I wanted to sort out why I had changed my process and find how to get it back to where it seemed effortless and more importantly, fun. Reading this made me realize that back when I was shooting my compound, it was possible for me to not worry about the scores, focus on each arrow and just enjoy the process. Now I work on shooting in pieces, stalking the elusive holding, my migrating anchor point, and sorting out the stupid head games that have worked their way in.  Recurve archery can be a bitchy mistress and she demands attention to detail like few other things that I have found. When she is happy, unicorns appear in a magical glade and the birds sing in chorus. If you've ever only shot compound, please for the love of all things holy do not naively ask if  "I have this figured out yet." You may not fully appreciate the scathing look you will receive in return.

It's just Process and Form. Deceptively simple and complex. Need this tattooed on my forehead, posted on my monitor at work and/or maybe somewhere more esthetically pleasing. Have some ideas of how to get some visualization practice in that doesn't involve ending with me asleep on the couch with a cat on my chest. The brand new book, Archery, edited by the USA Archery Team coaches, goes into detail on why this type of practice is so beneficial. When you were a kid, we called this daydreaming. As adults, we call this "meditative practice," silly. We daydreamed about accomplishing exciting things, we thought about them all the time, we couldn't wait until we got home to pick up the bat or skates or hop on the pony to go off and conquer worlds.

And now a word on Great Expectations. 

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”
Ira Glass

I agree, but this also works around the idea that you absolutely must accomplish something in the end, and it better be good when you get there. Practice makes perfect, but when you throw the capricious whims of creativity in there you can begin to see why artists end up suffering for their art. Not sure if there is a patron saint or muse for archery, but we might have something there. Actually, I just did a quick search and found that there is actually a St. Sebastian, who sort of fits that bill. If you run across an archery muse, let me know...

Expectations to perform or create to a certain level, whatever IT is, should be centered around the idea of doing because it's fun (For myself, not you. You can do whatever you darn well please and I'm not your mother). Once I lose sight of that, things get muddy fast. As a very type-A worrier sort that is deadline driven and needing to do X Y and Z today, it's HARD for me to swap gears and just enjoy the effing process instead of trying to accomplish something every single time. Letting go of the idea of perfection is a tough one, but very necessary and something that I will always need to work on. I have a suspicion that my big goal for this year will not be a score or form improvement, but just remembering to work hard and enjoy.

So, I am raising my glass in a toast. May this year bring you true joy from whatever makes you happy and many, many hours to do your thing.


john said...

Lovely stuff. Tweeted. (Must get that USA Archery book, too...)

Tara Vaughan said...

Amazing! An archery blog that quotes Ira Glass. Following!


Like your blog! Great posts.

Amanda MacDonald said...

Well, thank you WildFisherWoman :)