When it comes to what we wear, I’m all about camouflage. You can find these camo pants I’m currently loving here as well as a camo skirt I just added to my wishlist here. Creatively though, I don’t want to camouflage myself or be afraid of being seen. But the truth is that fear is something I struggle with daily, and I know lots of other creatives struggle with it as well.
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While visiting bookstores across the country, I had the opportunity to talk to many aspiring authors and other artists. In North Carolina, one writer admitted to me that the thought of people reading her work makes her want to throw up. She said that a friend has had her unpublished manuscript for three months and she’s felt sick the entire time. “I’m still barely eating,” she told me.
It can be terrifying to put your creative work out there for several reasons. In a lot of ways what you create feels like an extension of who you are and we all have an innate desire to be liked and to fit in; rejection of our work, can often feel like a personal rejection. As a society we also judge creative work AND we share that judgement with all of our friends and often blast it over social media.
This can be wonderful…when people like our work. But I’ve seen bloggers rip apart writers and other creatives whose work they don’t like, and while I haven’t personally experienced that yet, I know at some point in my career I will. If you put out enough work and it reaches enough people, there will be plenty who don’t like it.
So what are we to do about this? Not put our work out there? I’m not going to lie, I’ve thought about this so many times over the course of my life.
Creating something is magical. Releasing it is vulnerable.
And vulnerability is an uncomfortable feeling, even though it’s is one of the keys to happiness. (What a strange, paradoxical world, isn’t it?!)
Just the other month when Waiting at Hayden’s was about to be released, I thought about shelving it and living a life where I just created the work for my own enjoyment.
There are days I still think this might be a good solution.
But then there are days where I think of how different my life would be if Liane Moriary, whose book Nine Perfect Strangers just hit shelves, or Emily Giffin, who recently published All We Ever Wanted had shelved their manuscripts because they were afraid of being torn apart. Those books wouldn’t have reached me. And I love their stories! I’ve been influenced by their stories. I’ve up and changed my life because of Nicholas Sparks’ books and because of screenwriter Nancy Meyers’ movies. How they lived their lives, affected the direction of mine. Because they weren’t afraid of being seen. Or maybe they were afraid, but they put their work out there anyway.
I have so much more respect for anyone who releases anything creatively at this stage in my life. I will never post a bad review, because I wish we lived in a world where people could express their creativity and if it wasn’t liked, it just wouldn’t rise to the top; it wouldn’t be made fun of or publicly shamed.
But that is the way it is. At least currently.
I’ve tried to work on changing myself. To be better at viewing the work as not an extension of who I am. But it is…sort of. I’m not sure I’ll ever get around that. And I don’t necessarily want to be a person with too thick of skin, because I want to remain sensitive. My sensitivity is part of how I’m able to tell stories. But I can change my focus. And I think as creatives that’s what we need to do. We can concentrate on the stories we’re telling, and remove our focus from how they’re received, unless of course, we’re using that knowledge to keep growing as storytellers.
The world needs stories! And if you’re reading this post, there’s probably something inside you that needs to tell them. I hope you camouflage your look, but not your voice, and continue to.