Monday, December 08, 2014

Addressing Fears in the Creative Life: Part 3—Indifference

When she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 1969, Ruth Gordon was seventy-two years old, had been a success in the entertainment industry for over fifty years, and had won other awards. So the audience laughed with her in delight when she admitted how she felt in her Oscar acceptance speech: “I can’t tell you how encouraging a thing like this is.” She chose in that moment to tell the truth: being noticed felt good. 
Don’t we all feel good when our work garners even a little attention when we share it with others? Notice, especially if it is positive, can help propel our climb up the mountain of creative pursuit. But what if those encouragements are few and far between? What if others seldom Like, Share, Comment; inquire, buy, display; show anything but . . . well, seeming indifference?

Do we become so afraid we will forever feel our climb is received as if we never climbed at all that we stop sharing?

In Part 1 of this series, I said, What we create . . . is ignored by many, for all sorts of reasons. Others have the choice to not care.

So why share our work if others will choose to not care, choose to ignore, or choose any other response we categorize as indifference? Because creative work is meant to be shared as part of the process.

When the world with which we dare to share what we create seems indifferent, it can be discouraging, perhaps embarrassing. But if the fear of experiencing that letdown stops us from sharing, we thwart the creative process. So we have to put our perception of indifference in perspective, don't you think?

Most people are not unkindly dismissive. They have reasons for not choosing to engage in, access, seek out our work. Those reasons can range from what we create not being their cup of tea to its not being as ready for sharing as we think it is. These and related topics are covered extensively by experts at helping creatives hone their crafts and find their audiences. I am not one of those experts; I am one of their students, still learning.

But this I believe: If we can identify the source of our creative juices, can deem that source true and trustworthy (a gross understatement for those of us who identify our source as God), and if what we have created was crafted to the best of our ability; if it is suitable for the vehicles we choose for sharing, and we feel led to share, then we should not let the fear of indifference rule. After all, the climb, if that is what we are called to, can have its own reward, and it might also one day result in the encouragement we long for.

Of course, none of us are crazy about waiting. Ruth Gordon, however, would probably say waiting added to the surprise and delight when encouragement came that night at the Oscars. And me? Well, I can't tell you how encouraging a thing like living the creative life is when you love the climb itself—even in a sometimes, seemingly indifferent world. Can I get an amen? 

Read "Addressing Fears in the Creative Life: Part 4—Insignificance" on Thursday, December 11.

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