Overcoming the Artist’s Fear

I lamented before on how things were different when I was young. I know it may be somewhat of a joke me talking about lost youth when I’m a mere 28 years old, but to me youth isn’t really how worn your meat towel is. Youth is an attitude, an attitude that had been in short supply as of late.

The two year journey to make this book of mine come to life as well as get a foot in the door for my chosen profession have been two years of stresses, tears and strained friendships, but there may be some relief on the way. Funnily enough it came just because it started to get old.

Wanting to master an art form is a life of fear, fear of rejection, fear is not being noticed, and fear of not seeing your dreams come true in spite of all the work that you and those you love, have put into you just so you’d have a chance. When I was in school, I had absolutely no doubt that I would make it and be right up there alongside my heroes. It wasn’t until a year and a half ago that the seeds of doubt were first planted. Many of my heroes got started in their late teens or early 20s. At almost 30 though, I’ve barely left the gate.

That was a difficult time, seeing those years come and go and realizing that not everything works out for everyone. You just don’t hear about the times that happens because, well, those stories go sadly untold. How many obscure entries in the obituaries had the potential to be the next Poe, Mozart, or Kubrick? How many stories of budding talent ended in disappointment and tragedy? To think of it is too painful, and to realize you may be one of those forgotten Poes, Mozarts or Kubricks strikes one with untold terror.

Those seeds were planted a a year and a half ago, but what I learned, with a little help, was just because a seed is planted, that doesn’t mean you have to water it.

I’m not one to compare myself to such geniuses, but I got into this manuscript to write something that would last through the ages. I wanted to talk to someone a thousand years from now to let them know who was, what was felt and what was dreamed. I, in my never ending naïveté, thought that because that didn’t happen right now, right this minute, that somehow made me a fraud. Someone told me how ridiculous that was and for the first time, I actually listened.

The most interesting part of that day was when I got home and looked in the mirror. For the longest time the reflection that looked back at me earned nothing more than my disdain. That day was different. Who I saw was a guy who was exhausted after working so hard to make his dreams come true and still wasn’t ready to check out after God knows how many bad days. I liked this guy. I liked him a lot.

If you recall some weeks ago, I’d mentioned one of my major aspirations was to look in the mirror and not feel ashamed. I didn’t then, thus bringing that life goal to fruition. It was a moment of clarity. Moments of clarity don’t last long, but you do remember them. I’ll hold on to this one, and keep holding it for a good long while.

I didn’t feel the artist’s fear.

It’s good to have a little bit of it so you can listen to whatever criticisms and suggestions you may receive. A little modesty is a good thing. But you can have too much of anything. Everyone could use a glass of water every now and then, but you can drown in an ocean.

There’s little doubt that a few tumbles lay ahead, and the artist’s fear will return, but it won’t be so easy for it next time. You can drown in an ocean, but I just learned how to swim.

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