Creating art is difficult, because it involves accessing that innermost place where we have to face our deepest fears. We have to pass through all of our weaknesses, faults and failures to get to that hidden recess where our creative potential lies. When we get there, we’re deep in the midst of everything we love most, but we’re also surrounded by that which we despise in ourselves.
And if you can successfully battle the monsters within, reemerging into the outside world with a handful of precious stones, glowing with promise, you’ve only mastered step one. Step two is much worse: baring your creation before the public world. Did I say creating art is difficult? Sharing your art is even more frightening.
The Dunk Tank
When you unveil your painting or allow someone to read your novel, you are giving them a tiny piece of your own soul. Once your horcrux…er, I mean creation…is in their hands, they can do as they will with it. They can mock you, berate you, insult your intelligence and tear your beliefs to shreds. It feels a little like climbing up onto the dunk tank, sitting on a tiny paddle in your dripping skivvies, providing the onlookers with ammunition and saying “Take your best shot.”
A few artists don’t know that…yet…and they plunge onward, undaunted, into highly creative realms. But most Creatives realize that sooner or later, they’ll have to share their babies with the world. In an ideal world, you could just put on your creative blinders and go, go, go, without stopping to consider how others might view your work until you’re done. But for many, the idea of sharing your art is a traumatic thought.
Focusing on the “what ifs” can be paralyzing to an artist. It can lead to watering down your passion, trading something you care about for something you don’t, and creating to please others. But that isn’t what real art is about, is it?
It’s not about hiding behind something you create. It’s about grabbing a handful of your insides, ripping them out, and slathering a page or canvas with your own entrails. Art is your own innards, on display, for all to see.
That’s a little scary. But I’d rather be passionately real than a flakey faker. And I’ll accept facing my fears over mediocrity.
Bring it on!