a lovely letter

When Kate Woodrow, an editor at Chronicle Books, approached me about writing a book, one of the first questions she asked me was “Why do you want to do this? What do you want to get out of it?” My answer was pretty simple. I told her that I wanted to write about blocks, and inner-critics, insecurities… and of course a way to break through all of those things. I said, “If I can make just one person feel better, less alone, not so creatively broken, I would consider this project a huge success.” And yesterday, I got this letter {that made me cry – twice} from a woman named Claire. I asked her if I could share this letter with you, and she said yes:

“I am writing to thank you for the most amazing book I have ever read… next to the Velveteen Rabbit and the Secret Garden.

About 14 years ago when I was at college studying art, I had just passed my driving test and went to a job interview at a newspaper for some work experience. All my work was in the car, portfolios, sketch books and exam certificates – I wanted to get it right. My work was deeply personal and I was very proud of it, it was who I was. Anyway I went for the interview and then went on a date, the first in two years. I went back to the car park to get my car… no car… it had been stolen with all my work in it… NOOOOOOOOOO! The car was eventually recovered a week later, but no work in the car. Everything I had produced in ten years was just gone. After that I could not make anything. I couldn’t paint, think, draw nothing would come. Then eventually I had my son, and needed to work for myself. My art qualifications were my main qualifications, so I started doing commercial work, and slowly my soul felt like it was being hoovered of all creativity. I just produced work that thought would sell and could not produce anything personal or anything I felt proud of… or that I felt was valid.

So, that has been me for the last 14 years… sad but true… anyhow,  just after Christmas I got really sick and have been in bed pretty much since then. I had an enormous amount of time to think about stuff, and my artistic practice, and what that means… and slowly my brain started to remember that girl who produced work with passion and vigour with no thought for what anyone would think of it. I made because I had to. I had to get it out… and then I saw your book. I have followed your blog for ages, moved by all the work on there. Then your book arrived, and I cannot thank you enough, and all the artists in it, for their honesty and candour. It has moved me and shaken my stuck little world, and today for the first time in 14 years, I made some work… which i am proud of. It is just the start, but it is a start. I have quit all the commercial work and I feel like my block is over. I can make work that is personal, that matters, that I believe in… because I have to… otherwise it’s just half a life.

I just wanted to say that your book has given me a great gift and has really aided my journey back to my brushes. I was on that path and your book has given me some more courage and tools… thank you… seems small, but it has meant more than I can explain.” ~ Claire

Thank you so much, Claire. This means more than I can explain. I think what moves me so much about this is that I feel like this is my story too, which makes you start to realize that there are lots of stories like this out there. When you’re in it, you feel like you’re the only one who has ever felt like this… until you share your story and suddenly you realize that you’re not alone at all. Having blocks just means you’re part of a very elite, creative club! You can’t have a creative block if you’re not a creative person, right? I’m so glad to be in this club with Claire, and all of you.

*artwork by Rachel Castle

comments (8)

  1. Kim S. /// 03.20.2014 /// 12:59pm

    That was beautiful. Thank you BOTH for sharing. I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of your book! I love your site. I find it so inspiring, and with this post, comforting, too! So. . .thank you!

  2. anm8rchick /// 03.20.2014 /// 1:07pm

    that really was beautiful. thank you for sharing to both you and claire. i feel like this is me also. i make beautiful paintings in my head but i just can’t seem to pick up my brushes. or a pencil. or crayon… now, i am off to get your book…

  3. the jealous curator /// 03.20.2014 /// 1:29pm

    good! and i hope you’re also off to get some brushes, pencils, and crayons… you’re going to need them! 😉

  4. Louise Salmon /// 03.20.2014 /// 11:22pm

    How can I get this book? I live in Australia and online shopping doesn’t deliver there!

  5. the jealous curator /// 03.21.2014 /// 6:59am

    hi louise! the book is being sold in shops in australia too! if you can’t find it, a few of my aussie friends have ordered it from fish pond: http://www.fishpond.com.au/Books/Creative-Block-Danielle-Krysa/9781452118888
    thank you!

  6. Louise /// 03.21.2014 /// 1:31am

    I’m putting your book on my wish list NOW

  7. Ros /// 03.23.2014 /// 9:24am

    This has brought a tear to my eye too, how fantastic that you can experience this gift of touching someones life in this way….

  8. Paloma /// 03.25.2014 /// 7:52pm

    I’ve been reading your blog for years as well. I am a re-emerging artist in Mexico (printmaker) eager to get out of the creative block [due to motherhood.] So many stories to tell… just for starters, I ordered your book to be mailed to my mother’s home in NY, them to be send to Detroit to the hotel where my husband is so that he can bring it all the way to Mexico. Yes, I want it that bad. I can wait to read it, and to keep that etching press working. Thanks for all the inspiration!

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