Updated: Dec 31, 2020
I was listening to Elizabeth Gilbert’s podcast Magic Lessons which ended in 2016 (truly, unfortunately). I have listened to exactly one episode of this, and to be honest, I’m still listening as I type this. I just couldn’t wait until it was done to share this.
In this episode, Glennon Doyle is interviewed. She is an author and an activist and an example of someone who breaks the norm. In her most recent book, Untamed, I wanted to shout the messages from the rooftops as I read social rule after social rule that women are socialized to deem normal. I will likely write an entirely separate post on how deeply changed I was after reading that book in March, but for now, we’ll stick to the podcast.
As both Gilbert and Doyle are authors they speak about their creative process. Glennon Doyle talks about how she never “babysits” her work. I found this to be fascinating and amazing. And of course, I immediately thought, “how does this apply to me?”
She says the steps of making art are contemplation and creation. Then we have to let it go. I got chills when I heard this because it so deeply resonated that I’ve been thinking for a while. In the practice room, we contemplate each phrase, create a structure, organize notes in a way that will be compelling to an audience. We get to know the music. We pull it apart and we get to see the magic of the harmonies. We get to revel in that part that sneaks back in during the third movement from the first, even if the audience won’t be able to hear it upon first listen. We get to experience the magic of these pieces during our contemplation and creation of our performance. We get to sit in awe of these composers and works that we love and fall in love with them even deeper.
That is contemplation and creation. We craft our art in the practice room, which is for us. That is our time to experience our art.
During the performance, we let it go. Trying to babysit our art as it is happening is a recipe for second-guessing and self-doubt. If we are in the process of analysis as we are letting our art go, we still deem it as ours.
Performances are for letting go of the outcome. Performances are for the audience to experience, not us. Performances are magical of course, but they should be first and foremost for the audience. Our magic happens in creation and contemplation. And if we dig deep in our practice and feel compelled to give a performance that we are in love with, who cares about their opinions? You can’t control that anyway (literally you can never control what people think). Creation is the part that the audience can’t experience, and in many ways is the most compelling of all.
If we grasp our performances as if they belong to us, we tend to flail. The focus should be on contemplation and creation. When we can let go in performance and implement the creation we have crafted in the practice room, that’s a magical place to be.
Go contemplate, create, and let it go.