I almost didn’t write this post. I almost didn’t hit the “publish” button and almost let these words disappear into lost-prose obscurity.
Then I thought, “no.” I told myself to do it.
Others out there might be having these same doubts, my inner monologue said. Others may too be dealing with a stranger who comments in cruel form on a blog post of theirs and for these people suffering in the dubious ether of my mind, the crippling blow dealt to their self-confidence might persuade them to never write again.
I couldn’t let that happen. I’d pick up my sword-shaped pen and write.
So with eyes closed, I hit publish and here we are today.
OK, maybe I should back up …
A few weeks ago, I posted an interview with myself. It was meant to be tongue-in-cheek and fun, a play on the many interviews I’ve read before. I wasn’t publishing it to brag about my accolades and honestly, at the time I had zero reservations about a self-prescribed Q&A.
In response to the post, a WordPress user commented that I was a narcissist. I probably should’ve let the comment go without a response but instead I slammed fingertips to keyboard and replied:
Sorry to hear you feel that way. I was provided these questions and chose to publish them on my own blog. I think writers should support all those trying to make their way in the craft. Sending you positivity and light.
I don’t know. Maybe it was petty to respond but it’s just how I felt. Yes, of course dissension is good—it is after all the lifeline of a thriving, progressive society—but I’m also a believer in that old adage, “If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
In a paradisiacal world made of rose petals and rainbows, we’d never tear other artists down presumably to build ourselves up.
As a creative writer, publishing anything (even this very post) is not without its trials and nervous tribulations. A typo, a grammatical error, an idea improperly posed could mar my credibility and cause readers to eschew my little words.
Years ago, I used to worry a lot more about this perplexity than I do today and I’ve since found, in foregoing the judgment of others, I’m free to write unrestrained. If someone doesn’t like what I do, it probably means I’m doing something right. It’s kind of like when a guy sees his ex-girlfriend for the first time since the break-up and reacts dramatically. If he was over it, if her presence truly didn’t touch him on any kind of emotional level, he wouldn’t care.
Art, in that sense, is meant to evoke emotion. It’s our job as artists—painters, writers, poets—to make people care by putting out stuff that causes the mind and soul to react. Good or bad responses we can’t control (and most artists probably want to elicit the former) but we cannot and should not make art that pleases all; we can only construct the best thing we can, hold our breath, let it out and move on.
So what if it’s provocative? So what if it’s nothing you’ve seen or read before? That’s art. Creation is an ever-evolving lesson in painting outside the boundaries of convention and without this spirit of otherness, our world would be boring. Art wouldn’t need to exist.
Now, if this rant meant absolutely nothing to you then good; you haven’t yet felt the unkind burn of dissent. But if, like me, there’s negativity swirling among your optimistic palette, please vow to take those dark colors and turn them into something bright.
Also, remember that while we cannot change our critics’ minds, we can control our reactions to their undeserved enmity. We can meet their cruelty with positive vibes and then from this positivity, create even more unbridled, unabridged art.
That’s my personal plan, anyway. And if in doing so they still call me vain, then let them paint me as a narcissist after all.