So as I was saying a moment ago (ahem), Des Moines. The Creative Capital workshop. The way I was cruelly forced to write down an artistic goal. I did, under extreme duress. “Nest,” I wrote, as my entire being shouted “How dare you think you could write a grocery list, much less a book?”
But I had no choice. I had to write down a goal, even if I had made it up that second because I had no experience in having goals. And then, bam, by January I had a chapbook manuscript that I was submitting to contests. By June it was the finalist in a contest. And by October it had won.
Yes I put in hours of labor, but in retrospect it feels like it just happened. Less drama than most of my life, and more ease. As the Creative Capital workbook states, “The act of recording goals…informs thoughts and actions and almost inexplicably [my emphasis] affects outcomes dramatically.” As the other workshop participants and I would put it when I’d run into them later: “Everything we talked about at that workshop magically came true.”
A couple of us got together to write more goals a few months ago. That hour has given me a sense of purpose for 2020. All I can figure about what works about this process is that the big hurdle in art is making something that doesn’t exist a tangible reality. And it’s not the artistic labor that does that–at last not at first. Setting a goal is what makes it a reality. All the rest, to some extent, is execution.