Eric Maisel, PhD, is author of The Van Gogh Blues: The Creative Person’s Path Through Depression. In our recent interview, he addresses some of the meaning and mood issues facing creators.
Q: The kinds of anxiety we call stage fright, or fear of the blank canvas (or blank page) — can these be related to meaning issues?
Eric Maisel: When we fear that we do not matter or that our efforts do not matter, we get depressed.
Similarly, the places where we make large investments of meaning, for instance in our performances, paintings, or books, are places of great anxiety, because there is more than our ego on the line, there is our very sense of the meaningfulness of our life.
If the world is not interested in our paintings, for instance, we will be hard-pressed to maintain meaning there; so, when we come to the blank canvas, we can already be a little (or a lot) frightened that a negative reaction to this as-yet-unborn painting will precipitate a meaning crisis.
Continued in interview: Investing meaning in our art.
[Photo: Nicolas Cage in "Adaptation."]