Photo credit: balaniphotography.com
It’s been almost a year since I last posted a blog here.
In 2016 I had hoped to write a good bit more than I did. You who read my past writings have always responded so kindly to them, and that has encouraged me a great deal. In a way I did keep my resolution – I did write a lot… in fact, I’m looking at about six complete (or mostly complete) blogs and essays that I wrote over the past few months. However, when it came time to post each one…
I’d proofread and rework bits here and there, as I always do (my first drafts are often meandering, incoherent dumpster fires). I’d sleep on them, revisit the next morning – again, usual steps in my process. But when it came time to click “Publish” and put them out into the world, this ominous doubt – fear, even – would creep in and keep me from doing so. I’d begin to question the validity of my own words…
“Am I doing this just for attention? Recognition of some sort?”
“Does this make me less hire-able as a guitarist? Is it bad for my job?”
“Would it be better for me to just keep my head down and stay quiet?”
And the kicker:
“Does anyone even care to read this stuff? Maybe I should wait until I’m more successful/recognized/endorsed/etc.”
I wonder how often this sort of thing paralyzes us creatively – this idea that we need to be important or somebody before people will listen to what we have to say.
Do you ever catch yourself doing that? (Please say yes so I feel less crazy)
I think the problem with this line of thinking is that it becomes a shell game; the moment you do reach whatever level of success you think is necessary for you to speak out, a doubt sets in that suggests it’s not enough, that you need to wait until you accomplish something more before people will care.
If we were to continue following that logic, we’d likely go our entire lives without actually producing anything of worth.
At the end of the day, I don’t think people relate to our accomplishments nearly as much as they relate to our humanity. Great art is created out of vulnerability. I think that it’s easy to hide behind our achievements, to point at them and say “You should listen to me because I’ve done great things.” It takes far more courage to say, “I am a traveller just like you. You don’t have to listen to me, but this is my song, my message, my art. Do with it what you will.”
The great singer/songwriter/poet David Wilcox (who has infinitely more wisdom than I could ever aspire to) says the following:
“I think Sting’s analogy of songs is a great one, saying it’s a message in a bottle. You take all your best hopes and dreams and send it out in a bottle – toss it in the ocean. Whoever gets it and when they get it, well it has more to do with the ocean than it has to do with you.”
And so it is with anything we create – all we can do is put it out there, exposed, vulnerable, and hope that someone is listening.
I think for the past few months I’ve been scared to drop anything into the ocean, for fear that it will never reach anyone or, worse, reach people who don’t particularly care. And for that I must apologize.
I set out writing these things to encourage you – to take my stories, experiences, and hard learned lessons and share them in hopes that I might help illuminate the paths of others who might face the same dilemmas and doubts that I have. Forgive me for allowing my own fear of insignificance to keep me from doing that.
I intend to do better this year – to write and create regardless of my successes (or failures). I encourage you to do the same! Our community, nation, world – they need your voice, your story, your art. I’m certain of it.
*nudges bottle into outgoing wave*