On Identity Post-Project, Labels, and Inherent Value

. 2 min read

Hey you guys,

It’s been so long! How are your projects going?

For me, I’ve been on a bit of a creative hiatus lately. Truth is, I’ve been feeling a bit lost. Before the book was done, I’d write every day, but since finishing it I’ve felt like I’ve come to a standstill. Thing is, I vowed from the very start of my writing this book that I would not move on from this project to another without first having successfully published The Play House. I want to maintain my priorities and my focus, and honour the last two years of work by getting it out there. That’s all to say I have not allowed myself to dabble in other story ideas, and until my editor is done her last copy edit, I cannot move onto pouring myself into the publishing process. And so again: standstill.

It may be for this reason I’ve returned to the blog, which has always existed as a platform to share the artist’s journey, vs. artwork expressly. Sharing this weird limbo period then is actually important to me, because, just as life isn’t endless sunshine and rainbows, neither is the creative process. And I’d like that to be clear so that anyone reading this who has just finished a big project and is in this place, feeling possibly scared as I do about the next phase of the process, doesn’t feel alone, or like they’re doing something wrong. I’m in this with you.

So, to explore this muddy phase together…

What I’ve been noticing is that a lot of the fear that comes up post-project is tied to identity. For example, the writer writing every day while creating a novel suddenly comes to the end and must focus on publishing said novel. All of a sudden said writer’s thoughts shift to business and the question inevitably crops up in the mind, “Who am I? Writers write and I have now not written in weeks.” One book that really helped me reframe this pigeon-holing of the self is Jeff Goins’ Real Artists Don’t Starve, which argues against this romantic vision of the “pure artist” who does nothing but create and await “discovery.” But rather argues for the artist that creates and then does a hell of a lot of work to put his/her work out there. And so, reframing what is encapsulated in the label we identify with has helped me.

What helps even more is something I was recently talking with a friend about. And that is not identifying with a label at all. It’s hard to do, because humans like to belong to groups - it’s in our DNA and explains the popularity of the phrase “find your tribe.” But what this friend reminded me was that I should be happy with my identity as myself, who I am, not what I do. And in reflecting on this, I couldn’t agree with him more. Our value is not dependent on labels, nor output.

And so, I am taking this season to explore other interests—psychology (neuroplasticity, memory, dreams), yoga, hopefully a new art class, and most of all my relationships (with others and myself). I guess, in the end, I’m not lost at all, and to anyone who identifies with this - you’re not lost at all. We’re just in a new phase that’s a bit more hazy, but filled with so much possibility for growth. And that’s sort of beautiful.

If you’re going through something similar, let me know. I always like hearing from you guys.

xx

Mackenzie