The Authentic Artist
All great artists draw from the same resource: the human heart, which tells us that we are all more alike than we are unalike. ~ Maya Angelou
I recently read a blog that provided much food for thought. It also cemented my views as a very traditionalist artist.
I have always been a writer. Since I was a child, I always imagined myself in books, rewriting them to fit my narratives and imagination. I use to think I was Carolyn Keene wanting desperately to be Nancy Drew, or at least write a character like her.
I would dabble and write on scraps of paper, writing in the margins on dreadful math tests imagining long ago places. My love for reading and writing was such that it consumed me, I would be lost for hours in imaginary worlds losing myself to new places. But it was in that loss, I always found myself more.
Even before the internet became a world wide hit, I knew writing was a difficult profession. I had relatives in the business. It was not a sustainable industry for many. Even as Harry Potter became big, I knew JK Rowling was truly one in a million.
As my journaling transferred from paper to electronic, from private to public. I never thought anything of it. Even when blogging became a thing. When I would hear bloggers and novelists and everything in between talk about the millions they would make. I would shrug my shoulders, Think “good for them.” and keep going about my business.
The last few years though, I have heard more and more people ask me about my blog and writings. As I have been published in other forums which was a high of terrifying, being incredibly insecure, but also proud that someone wanted to publish my work, I literally felt like my baby was being taken from me and being displayed.
People would ask me how much I was paid, how many followers, how many hits. etc etc. Each time I got that question, I felt like my work was being torn in two. Not from any criticism, but because people were judging it on monetary and superficial levels, then the actual merit.
When I read hmunro’s post about getting more blog traffic, he also touched on why you need said blog traffic. As he writes:
But the rub is that it’s easy to confuse followers and “likes” with approval — or to let a lack of feedback erode our self-worth.
Focusing solely on your stats (and comparing yourself to other bloggers) is a superhighway to creative bankruptcy and self-doubt. Please believe me; I’ve been down that road.
I agree one hundred percent.
I get it. I know publishers and agents. Websites and magazines, who refuse to publish work unless you have a “following.” And no Grandma Zelda and Great Aunt Josephine do not count, as much as I wish they did.
The phrase “Starving Artist” is around for a reason. Yes we would love to make actual bank on our art. But even if we don’t, we still do it. Because to not write, or paint, or sing, or dance, or whatever your craft is, wouldn’t be breathing. It wouldn’t even be living.
Our works are a reflection of us, I have said it before, and I will say it again, “Any artistic endeavor is our vulnerabilities our deepest reflections of our hopes and dreams.” Their can’t be a price put on it.
You can’t even steal that. Oh people have tried. I have had people steal snippets of my work before, but at the end of the day no matter how much people try to make it their own, it is still mine. Because it is my thoughts and emotions that are behind it.
That is what art is. Everything else; fame, money, followers, reposts, it is all just added bonuses, that might give you a few minutes of warm and fuzzies. Maybe an inkling of fame. But it doesn’t determine your self-worth. It doesn’t make or break you as a writer or artist.
So do YOU. Do what you do best and let the rest follow, because when you are truly authentic. When you are an authentic artist, it shows, and no one can take that away. Not money or fame, and that is when it all falls into place.
As always thoughts and opinions are most welcome.