I had the best time this evening. Not only did I get to share coffee and gossip and love and energy with my best friend, I learned a lot about my personal creativity outlet, writing. As much as we say we have a lot to learn about our passions and that we’re open to new ideas and critiques and opinions, we really aren’t. We hold our best (and worst) work to our chest, having poured love and angst and laughter and sweat and tears into it, but are hesitant to share all that power with friends and buddies. So we polish our work, nickel and dime it to death, then enter it in a contest or show. Or worse, do nothing with it. Most of us are afraid to share our artistic baby with anyone else. What if they don’t like it? What if I think it’s good but others think it stinks?
I suffer from the “Emperor’s Clothes” syndrome. You know that fable ― the king was a jerk, so one day his attendants convinced him he was dressed in the most beautiful outfit ever. It was just invisible. And he was naked. So the dumb king fell for their flattery and wore the “invisible suit” to a court function. You can imagine the laughter he pulled out from friends and strangers alike.
I think many of us are just like him. We are afraid that even though we think what we’ve written is really good, others will pat our head and smile and say, “Oh, that’s cute/good/nice.” Then they will go home laughing their buttniks off, thinking, “Oh my gaaawd!” So why bother offering our creation to the world?
One of the hardest things I’ve had to learn is to not listen to that stinky piece of cheese demon on my shoulder that keeps filling my head with doubt. Why have I wasted so much time swimming in the pool of insecurity? How narrow-minded I’ve been! I’ve let my insecurities creep into conversations and query letters. I’ve been almost toe-kissing in my subservience to potential agents and publishers. Even though I really am proud of what I’ve written, I’ve been afraid to seem too enthusiastic. After all, the Emperor’s Clothes…
Tonight I learned that it’s really okay to toot our own horn. To be strong and aggressive and outwards about our passion. That those on the other end of the query letter (or photo studio or art gallery) would rather take a chance on someone who believes in their work than someone who shies away from it.
I suppose that’s why I started this blog. I had a boatload of short stories just yearning for release. I have folders full of poetry and novels and research and all kinds of things that make me happy. While most of my dabblings were for my own entertainment, there were some I thought worth sharing. Would anyone read my ramblings? Would anyone think they’re as charming as I do? Would my readers run off and tell their friends what garbage they just read?
I suppose that demon never falls far from my shoulder. From your shoulder. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t shove it off the minute it returns. Pull it off, hold it arm’s length in front of you, and tell it you are tired of its ramblings. That you are okay just the way you are, and that your art is always evolving. And flush that cheese down the toilet.
Don’t be afraid to tout your artwork. Don’t you want to show off the things you’ve worked so hard to create? Your paintings, your jewelry, your garden? What about that graphic art you’ve been hiding? The cookbook you’ve been putting together? The furniture you refurnish? What are you sitting on that you should be sharing with the world?
You only get one chance at this life. Why not throw conventionality to the wind and put yourself out there? Believe in yourself, believe in what you write. Sell it like you believe in what you write. What’s the worst that can happen? Rejection? Like it hasn’t happened before. Like it won’t happen again. People going to laugh at you? Been there, done that. Who cares? Don’t let “thanks but no thanks” stop you from submitting the strongest, most positive masterpiece you can create.
It’s time for me to change my clothes ― this Emperor’s outfit never really fit right anyway. You see, I’ve got my eye on some saucy little salsa outfit I saw at Good Will…