When writing these blogs, I try to keep things from being personal. I don't feel that this is necessarily the forum to let out my personal issues and strive to keep this about photography . However, sometimes you have to break your own rules, and this is one of those times.
Some of you may not know this, but I have been sober for almost four years. This has been an amazing journey that has been full of self discovery and challenges. I have been fortunate enough to have a good support group over this time and have yet to be put in a position where I would consider picking up a drink again. I can't express how much happier I have been and can say without a doubt that this blog, and the website it is on, would not exist had I not made this choice.
Over the past few years I have been humbled to have a number of people come to me with questions about how things have been for me and how I might be able to help them in their own decision to make a similar choice. It was one of these conversations that happened recently that made me want to talk about this and how it has helped me in my work over the past few years. There was no specific question that got my mental gears spinning on this subject, but just that the conversation happened again.
The most important thing that came to mind, and this isn't the first time, is that my mind is clear. That's not to say that I don't have things that bother me, we all do, but my mind is clear enough to focus on them and try to fix them instead of putting them aside and hoping they'll go away. Don't get me wrong, I'm not perfect, some of these things don't get handled the right way, but I try, and that's the most important part.
One of the problems I have had, though, is something I have found is normal, but can be annoying at first. As someone who is creative, my mind doesn't stop moving. As soon as one thought is out of my head, the path is clear for the next one to come barreling through. It can be annoying, and if you clouded your mind with alcohol, drugs, or anything else, once that's out of your system you can't ignore these thoughts. It's as if someone has opened the dam and started letting all the water out at once.
I'm not saying that these thoughts are bad, though. Most of them are new ideas about how to further my work. The problem is that when you were used to them coming at a trickle, the deluge of thought can seem overwhelming at times! As I told a friend of mine, while I was drinking I was under the false idea that if I quit I would lose my creative edge. What I didn't realize was that I just barely hanging onto my creative edge. Once I quit and the floodgates opened, I couldn't write down ideas fast enough.
There are some drawbacks to this, though. Yes, I have ideas, good and bad, that come in quick succession. I have motivation that has pushed me to do better, and after I do, I have to better what I just did. The motivation is wonderful, but it is also what causes me to question myself, sometimes way more than I should. Like anyone who makes art, I am my own worst critic. I beat myself up way more than I ever give myself credit. In a way, this is part of what keeps me going, but I also have to check myself at times. I have to be aware that not everyone is going to care about what I'm doing. Not everyone is going to find things as interesting as I do, and some might even be vocal about it. However, this has also been where my choice has made me stronger, because I can eventually convince myself that it doesn't always matter what others think. Not all art is enjoyed by everyone. There are many people who love romantic landscapes, others who are all about portraits, and some who love abstract art; but no one is going to love all things the same.
I'm not saying that the problems I have stem from my quitting drinking, neither are the positives. I am, however, able to tell the difference now. I am able to handle the good and the bad. There are many people out there who have never had the problems I had with my substance of choice, or any other for that matter. These issues with my work are ones that they have to deal with too. The difference, though, is that I had to remove something from my life to open up a door I shut on myself for a while.
I hope that all of this has made sense to most of you. I wrote this quickly and feel that, for once, I'm not going to go over this and pick it apart. This is something from the more personal side of me that needs to be just written a little more in a free-form fashion. I hope that anyone who is reading this who might be struggling can get help. Don't ever be afraid to ask for it, it can be the best decision you ever make.