Arts Admin and fellow Blogger, Samantha Rodin, and I got around to talking about art recently (of course!). My favourite part of hanging out with Sam is being able to meet with another artist that is so inspired and incorporates art into every waking moment of her life. When I speak with her about art, I can speak to her candidly as both an artist and a friend. Recently I was talking with her about my recent views on art in everyday life when she said, “What you’re talking about now sounds like a good idea for a YorkScene blog post.”
“Well, sure,” I said, but hesitantly. I haven’t written a blog post in a really long time. Actually, I haven’t written much of anything in a really long time. I am ashamed to admit this in the face of other, more prolific writers, but a blog post of 500 words often takes me at the very least three days to complete. One day to draft and edit, a second day to edit again, and then another day to edit… and then usually I sit on it for about a week thinking: Is this really what I want to say? I don’t want to put anything out there that I’d be ashamed of tomorrow. I want pieces that are concise and well written – as perfect and professional as I can possibly make them. The result of trying to create a perfect piece every time? Hardly any pieces are completed.
No more of that. After much discussion, I’ve decided, at least for the moment, to let go of concerns with perfection, portfolios, and professionalism, and instead just write. To be honest, the thought of writing freely had never dawned on me, and likely wouldn’t have if I hadn’t been able to discuss my fears with Sam. I was too busy thinking: Oh dear, whatever I send out will be out there forever. Once it’s on the Internet, no matter how ashamed I am of it later, I will never be able to take it back or take it away.
Perhaps this is the big problem with art these days: This worry of art as though it’s a business, where each piece you put out is a measure of your worth in a pool of other artists – another thing to add to your portfolio and therefore something that must reflect well on you as a professional. I never entertained any ideas of having an audience when I first started blogging, so I wrote prolifically about everything that came to mind. The result? Often a bunch of garbage. But sometimes, rarely, gems that I would look back on later and think: Wow. Did I write this? Was that me? The reason for these gems is clear. When you produce more, you increase the odds of producing something good. When you only write a little, your chances of happening upon gold become much less.
The problem with looking at writing as a business – a platform, a voice that will echo and echo and follow you for all online eternity – is the fact that you become too worried about being professional to write freely, to take risks, and to say what you want to say. I realize now that it’s not good for me creatively. It’s definitely not good for the publications I write for either, which often have to wait for a long time before I send out anything new.
From now on, I’ll try harder to supress this need for perfection and professionalism and instead say what I’d like to say honestly and frankly. I want to try harder to get back to the basics – to write for writing’s sake.
To be honest, artists like Sam and I who are green and young and are just starting their artistic “careers” (again, that word “career”! I hope to address this idea of real life (careers) vs art in a future post) are at one of the most exciting and frightening points in our lives. Everything is up in the air. Every day we have moments where we think, “Oh my, what am I doing? And why am I doing it? And how will I sustain myself for the rest of my life off of love and passion alone?” Usually when I find a blog that is honest about these fears, I like it and relate to it, though I would never have thought of writing about it myself. Is it professional to confess fear on the Internet? I’m not too sure. But at this point, I’m tossing that question away. Perhaps there is another writer out there who shares these concerns and would find a post about it interesting too. That’s the person I’ll be writing for now.
I find nothing more inspiring than meeting with other artists, whether literary, visual, or musical. Meeting other artists gives me a sense of belonging and reassures me that I am NOT crazy listening to those voices in my head and trying to articulate them in the world somehow. Arts councils thrive on the idea of sharing that most vulnerable part of you, of embracing what you love, and of seeing others embrace what they love too. That is what is most beneficial about them. YorkScene is just another extension of this meeting of minds, and somewhere along the way I forgot about that. I started looking at it as a platform – a place where ideas were stated rather than shared and fostered.
Come back to my artistic roots with me! Somehow I lost myself, but hopefully I’ll find myself again soon. And I look forward to getting feedback from you too.