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Every time, every SINGLE time, I write a poem and put it up on Facebook, the little gremlins in my mind start chattering about how worthless I am as a person.
Welcome to the joy of presenting your art.
As a chain link in the artistic process, presentation is the last section and is one of the pieces never needed to finish your art! You could spend 20 years painting a beautiful picture and then hide it somewhere before anyone else sees. The presentation is not necessary. However, I would argue that it adds a new element to our work!
And that element is: love
To present a piece of art is tantamount to telling a friend about how emotionally unstable we have felt for our entire lives, the highs and lows of human experience, as well as what confusion and concrete understanding has been gleaned from our short journeys here. To share our art, our true expression, something we put our souls into, with another person is equally as revealing and beautiful.
But, as we all know, we are afraid of love. Sad but true, the thought of giving love without receiving any reciprocation is a fiery fear which sings dreadful lullabies to us as night, tucking us in tightly to the sheets of worry!
But nonetheless, we artists do it. And to put our pieces out there takes courage and gentleness. I've been contemplating this for a few days and came to a few notes about this which I think will help emerging artists with their fears and worries about presenting themselves!
#1 It's always a rough start, but fear gets easier to manage.
Oh the beginning of work in any field is a terrifyingly magical process! It blends together so many emotions into a neurological soup of chaos and excitement! I remember the first time I read poetry aloud at an open mic, I was terribly afraid. The hour long process of wondering when my name was going to be drawn from the hat was, I can only imagine, as frightening as wondering if a tiger is going to break out of his cage and begin mauling you. But once I was called, I pushed myself on stage and began speaking as rapidly as possible, trying to blaze through my words and stutter as little as possible. After it was over, the clapping had began and I felt my heart open. All that fear turned into utter joy and excitement! I felt myself giddy, wondering when the next time was I would be able to read!
Fear is just love that must be transformed, so when we are afraid of presenting, remember that the other side is waiting to embrace us.
#2 What you think is amazing, others might never respond to.
For most artistic endeavors, there comes a lot of wavering in quality. Some pieces seem descended from god's own lips while others look sad, like dirt having a bad day. The most difficult thing I have found is when I create a piece that I love, that really shakes me to my core, and when I present it to others, they stare off into the nothingness, wondering when I will be done. It huuuuurts! Oh the pain of rejection! The pangs of not being seen in the raw! It's an ordeal of suffering at a very personal level.
What I recommend is two fold, because this can be viewed in two lights! In one sense, you must ask yourself, "Did the message I present come off muddy? Do I need to simplify my idea or express it in a different way? Why is it my audience isn't receiving this?" Internal examination of the piece is always good, no harm can come from a curious mind.
Now it's also good to ask, "Is this piece presented to the RIGHT audience? Is it an amazing work yet, when viewed by unaware eyes, cannot be appreciated?" Sometimes we have ideas that are deep, complex, unique, or unexplored and often a beautiful gem like this will be disregarded as a useless stone.
Now perhaps you will gain some insight and be able to craft a new piece or present it to the right crowd so it's well received. There is also the possibility that you are the only person in the world who will deeply appreciate this! And that's wonderful too!
When an event like this occurs, it's good to laugh and acknowledge that whether you are appreciated or ignored often, you are never a failure unless you never try!
Which brings me to my third point.
#3 Keep Creating, Keep Failing, Keep Growing
Art is all about trying and exploring and moving yourself into unknowns, to strange territory where few had traveled before! In those places there is vast riches and unique treasures of the soul waiting to be found and shared with others. But this is no dandy walk in the park, as we may well know.
Nothing, I must repeat, NOTHING AT ALL comes to you easily if it's valuable! So keep pushing, keep grinding the gears away and staying focused and confident in your pursuit! It takes a disciplined mind to become a master at anything. Tiger Woods didn't wake up and win a PGA tour, he spent 20 years practicing! C.S. Lewis didn't write The Chronicles of Narnia overnight, he spent years crafting that masterpiece! And you, you brilliant little being of expression, must put in the work needed to grow to your potential!
Yes, there are tips and tricks to get the juices flowing, but I have found that dedication to a craft is one of the most important tools. One of my favorite books on creativity is by Steven Pressfield and it's called The War of Art. If you want a short book filled with passion and a fire which will light your creative butt, this is my best recommendation.
Hopefully these tips are helpful when you feel the fear of expression so that you may confidently and swiftly move past it! To attempt is the greatest thing you can do, regardless of outcome!
Blessings and love to us all.