Forward/Story or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love My Inner Critic

Expectations and judgment stifled me for almost three years. After my wife and I had a child, I shifted focus from making art to raising our daughter. It was love beyond belief to care for this beautiful, sweet girl, but the longer I didn’t make art, the easier it was to let fear and rules prevent me from creating.

I listened to the voices: Telling me I’m not allowed to write others’ stories. Telling me I need more formal education to succeed. Telling me success is about money.

These voices weren’t others’. They were in my mind. Not literal voices. I’m not mad. But sometimes, that screaming inner critic felt like it was pushing me to madness.

Long ago, I told someone, “I want to use my powers for good.” These powers are imagination and creativity — voices spinning stories in my head. Fiction disguised as fact. I must share the tales, or they’ll eat me inside out.

Recently, I let it all go at Forward/Story, a storyteller’s retreat/lab in Nosara, Costa Rica organized by Lance Weiler and Christy Dena. It was joy and wonder. It was spiritual. It was a breakthrough. I finally found my soul again. These aren’t hyperbole. I reconnected with my powers.

On the beach, I spoke with another artist who works in a different genre than I, from another country than I, of another race and gender than I. I learned. I grew.

In a creation session with three strangers, we synchronized, bounced ideas, and fashioned a fun experience. Harmony in work. I’d forgotten it exists. I remembered.

Feeling judged. Laser eyes piercing my body and splitting it into a million pieces. Then, I remembered it’s not about me. It’s their hang-ups. The fear isn’t real. It’s a story I’m telling myself.

Jumping off the edge of a cliff and flying through the jungle on a cable the size of my finger inspired freedom. Fears and rules will bound me if I let them. Forward/Story liberated me from rules and shed my fears, which freed me to take flight.


a couple interviews with cindy marie jenkins

A few weeks back, I closed NY_Hearts: LES, the first of my four-part immersive neighborhood love story experiences created on Moveable Feast. During the run, Cindy Marie Jenkins, a storyteller in Los Angeles, interviewed me about the project in her “Beyond the Blurb” series on G+ Hangouts.

Cindy is super fun and very interested in the convergence of digital and physical worlds, specifically in the performing arts. She’s has another series called “Artist Check In” in which she catches up with creators’ ongoing projects. It’s a great perspective on the before and after of a project’s life, and it offers a way for creators to critically reflect and look forward to the next step, which is often the hardest part of making art. We recorded my “Artist Check In” this past Monday.

Thanks to Cindy Marie Jenkins for her time and dedication. Check out her YouTube channel, where she covers everything from arts creation, marketing, fundraising and administration.