Tell me if you empathize with this situation:
You’re at your computer, working on something creative—writing, arting, video editing, etc. It’s just a mess at this point, but it’s fine. You trust the process and you know you gotta play in chaos before tidying things up.
It’s all roses, if not occasionally thorns, until someone walks by and takes an interest in the storm you’re cooking up.
That sincere curiosity is a fire alarm alerting you to just how ugly of a duckling you have at the moment. You impulsively move to shield it, whether through a flood of caveats, self-deprecating zingers, or with your physical body. The world just isn’t ready to understand.
That was me when my boyfriend stopped by to stare into the word spaghetti abyss that was my draft for Deep Sea. Weeks later I reflect on how quickly I moved to block him, one of the people I trust most in this world.
My reaction seems simultaneously so bizarre and understandable. In my experience, creative work, in its early stages, should be just for me. It’s this mumbo jumbo soup that hasn’t quite figured out if it’s gonna be alphabet, French onion, or potato. And if others jump in too soon, often times that makes it harder to let the soup be what it needs to be.
Now I’m hungry. So before I go off to eat real soup, let me rewind to my other metaphor and impetus for my work-shielding: Protect your ugly ducklings. Let them be themselves, just for you, until they start to know what they are (swans! hopefully!). It’s okay (and even imperative a lot of the time) to, at least for a little while.
That’s part of the creative process worth trusting, too.