COLLABORATIVE QUEST

April 13, 2018

 

I think collaboration can be difficult. I think it can be sexy, exotic, explorative, thrilling too. Creativity and sexuality are, of course, two sides of the same coin, the currency being Expression. But just like any romantic relationship, collaboration faces new challenges when presented with a long-term deal. Any two artists can come together, fall in love with each others' ideas, make something, and then go their separate ways, best selves intact, hopefully. But committing to something on the timespan of months, years, lives -- that is something far riskier, far more dangerous, and -- I believe -- far richer. For not only are you asking for assistance on a creative project, you are asking someone to share your life's journey. That's a big ask. We simply don't know where life will take us: how we will mature, who we will love, what will fascinate us now and in the future.

 

What's essential in a long relationship is vulnerability, honesty, and the ability to share your inner growth with your partner. But that's difficult in creative collaborations, because sometimes the artistic inner growth feels very tender. It's hard enough to share an idea with someone - how many times have we done that, only to see our beautiful idea crushed, picked apart by others, and to have sunk into depression as a result? Now try to do that with something far greater and harder to communicate -- artistic perspective -- and you've got a struggle on your hands. Especially since two parties are involved, both maturing in their own ways. Two kinds of respect are demanded: respect for your partner's voice; and respect for your own growth. How to balance the two? How to be true to yourself, and faithful to your partner? The solution sounds simple -- listening, talking, sharing -- but the reality is more slippery. And honestly, it's uncomfortable to have a mirror held up to your identity so often, when you're still coming to terms with who on earth you are and how you understand life!

 

But that, of course, is also the beauty of the collaborative process. There is no rest for the wicked. Perhaps what is needed sometimes is faith and patience. At other times, perhaps it is confrontation. I think the most difficult part of relationships is questioning one's own assumptions about the other person, how they see the world, and who they are becoming, and not getting hung up on the past. But that's all part of the quest, all part of maturing as an artist. One cannot stay in Rivendell forever... New paths need be trod, new struggles faced, and deeper understanding reached. Trust in your growth, keep sharing, and keep diving into the unknown. You just don't know what lies ahead.

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