I could have posted written entries to this website since its launch in 2010, but I didn’t dare. I had already reached an uncomfortable quota for self-importance in hanging out my cyber-shingle as a professional artist. I struggled under the demands of domestic life to flesh out a portfolio so as not to feel a fraud.
To then find sufficient nerve to publicly write about those experiences or my puny perspectives was too much. I’m still not sure I read enough to claim the privilege of writing. The imbalance recalls that party guest who talks far more than he or she listens, and I’ve never wanted to be that person; I’ve listened long to fools just to avoid it.
Six years later, I dare to write.
Every petty fear I’ve fostered and fed drones on, in a bid to drown out quiet encouragement. Anyone wired for acceptance and approval is familiar with these taunts; they are the unoriginal, dull voices of doubt and scarcity. They can be persistent enough to nag most into extended procrastination, but they are manageable.
More challenging are the louder, more ruthless bullies, the psychological echoes of experiences that undermined one’s self worth. Those voices will dissect and dissemble confidence with precision. They’ll mingle with and then exploit vulnerabilities. They will cleave memories into pieces and leave a person emotionally disenfranchised, unsure of which recollections and sentiments are safe to pick up, and share.
I am exposing myself to both legitimate, valid criticism and bullies, real and imagined. I greet them now, however, with a mixture of acceptance and indifference, rather than panic. Cruel critics are constants; the people who believe it’s erudite and entertaining to be unkind. There will always be small men who feel empowerment in imposing pain and humiliation.
They are consumers in this world, so incapable of generating anything genuine that they must prey on the lovers, the givers and the creatives. In terms of the visual elements of design and of spirit, they are just negative space. Defined by lack and emptiness. Subordinately unimportant relative to the positive. Simply something to push out against.
I once made the error of believing I needed to distinguish myself before earning the right to author anything, but now I find license in recognizing those parts of my journey that are in essence, indistinguishable from fellow travellers’. Those include real risk, self-doubt, shame and failure. It’s easier to endure those jagged bits, when comforted by the certain knowledge that they can be wrapped in a soft empathy.
The positive is regenerative. That is a creative force cheap criticism cannot smother or otherwise diminish.
So, I will reach in solidarity with so many imperfect, striving, healing, learning souls pushing out against that negative space, and create, however opportunity allows.