The group of mad songwriters I’m hanging with this month have a thread with 100+ posts about imposter syndrome.
Every artist who’s ever created something they feel strongly about has also felt like a fraud. Who am I to pretend to be an author? Who am I to pretend my songs are worth your trouble to spend 3 minutes listening?
John Lennon anguished about his lyrics. Stephen King is, to this day, ashamed of his subject matter, still smarting from a teacher’s disdain for the junk he wrote.
I have reached a point where I’m confident about my song lyrics, and getting there about my books. Every smart writer I trust has said they learn to ignore feedback except from very specific people in very specific ways. Not the 1-star haters on Amazon. Not their Best Beloved (though mine is my first audience, but her one and only job is to smile and pat me on the head; we both know her job doesn’t involve anything like honest criticism, that comes later.)
I don’t believe in the anguished lamenting artist who must bleed and die to create. We choose to do this. On some level we’re driven to it; I don’t think I’d be happy if I stopped writing novels. But no one makes me do it, and a lot of folks never feel the joy of publishing a book or performing a song they wrote. I get to make art, and I’m happy about it. It takes work, though, to focus on the positives when Imposter Syndrome and Resistance strike.
Next time you see someone doing something creative, whether it’s performing in public or just sketching a doodle in the park, thank them for daring. They can always use the boost.
In this week’s 21st Century Creative podcast Mark McGuinness and guest Laurie Millotte discuss creating a global business. Laurie’s challenge to listeners was to create a round-the-world trip based on your creative desires. Here’s what I wrote:
Before Best Beloved and I spent a year traveling the US and Canada doing house sitting, we’d already built a location-independent business. As a result, we’ve already done a fair bit of traveling. But this week’s challenge has me thinking.
1. San Francisco. The entire city, but especially the waterfront and the trolleys, fire up my creativity. I’d want to start my trip with a total immersion in a city that has always inspired me.
During our year-end sabbatical and post-mortem/planning episode, I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to do all I can to separate my art from money matters. This past year related issues brought me closer to abandoning writing than anything ever has in the past.
I’m planning on writing like mad, but I’m planning on giving it all away. Take money, marketing, business out of the equation so I can create without feeling the obligation to give people “their money’s worth” which is a phrase I haven’t been able to get out of my head for years.
Artists who make a good living learn to separate these issues, the art and the business. Great thinkers I’ve followed like Mark McGuinness at Lateral Action, Hugh McLeod at Gaping Void, and Bob Dylan at everywhere, have all managed to do this at various levels. Maybe I’ll get there after while.
It’s no secret when Elbert is at a party. Those plaid shirts are hard to miss. He’s not a bad chap, really. Some of his witticisms are quaintly amusing.
The glasses aren’t bad, though wire frames might be less geeky. Though with that hair, it’s hard to say. Could be quite stylish if it were brushed once after he gelled it.
Jeans are acceptable party wear, I suppose, though I’d have opted for something pleated. To each his own. At least jeans and plaid go together, usually.
It’s nice to see someone that age retaining their youthful sensibilities. Most folks his age would have settled into more mature dress and grooming. That, um, quirkiness is just part of his appeal to most people.
Every year, I notice that stretching to do more creative work makes me even more creative. It fires up things in my brain I forgot were there. It dredges up old feelings and new thoughts.
What it doesn’t do is use itself up or run itself out.
If you’d like to hear what I’m doing musically, head on over. While you’re there, look through the songs and see what others are writing. The library grows by about 500 songs most days during February, and most have demos you can listen to and even download. I’ve discovered some of my favorite artists on FAWM; regular folks who love making music as much as I do.
P.S. Ginger is off to the editor tomorrow and will be ready for y’all to buy before month end.