I’ve been in a dark place these last few hours, wondering why the silence is deafening from some people who know me and know I write. Why don’t some people say anything? And for my brother as well? I was getting more upset, the longer my brain marinated in it. As I waited for the hair dye timer to ding (at the salon getting my hair did today), I investigated. And I found this:
It’s actually a thing, this whole notion of family and friends not say anything about art. The above article actually has some heartbreaking comments from writers who shared about their unsupportive spouses. One writer said she was going to stop working on her manuscript since no one she shared with could get through the first chapter.And I related to these people. As much as my heart hurt, I also realized the big message here.
This belongs to the people who refuse to be supportive. It is their problem, not mine. It is their fear, not mine. And it’s not personal. Sigh.
As I made a commitment a couple of weeks ago to stop taking things personally, I suppose being in this dark place (stewing in this dark place) means I’m cheating. I have been taking things personally. It is time to surrender and allow people to be however they are going to be about my writing. Because when I ask myself if their reactions will be so powerful that it will cause me to STOP writing I resound with a loud, “Uh, no!” So, what’s it matter how they feel about it? It truly is none of my business.
However, I can’t quite sing “yahoo yahoo” like all good little who’s who just had Christmas stolen from them by some green, sinister Grinch. No. It doesn’t quite work that easily in my life (maybe it does for you). So, I have to work at it and release … get pissy… release some more… get pissy again… and release some more. Maybe one day, I won’t get pissy for quite so long…or even at all. Who knows?
So, my free advice? If you know an artist, please be a true friend and support their art (if you can afford it). Then, once you’ve taken a peek, whether you adore it or hate it, maybe start the conversation by asking your artist friend about his/her work. Once you have a little more insight, maybe try to find something sincerely positive to share about the work. However, you should know that telling a writer that the writing was interesting or that they used a nice, legible FONT is a clear give away you either didn’t LIKE the work (which IS ok) or you REALLY didn’t like the work (which is ALSO ok). I think most artists would prefer authentic reactions (even if unfavorable) to fluffy compliments that mean nothing and are insincere.
If you truly think the artist is not hitting the mark and has no talent, then offer concrete and constructive criticisms. Tell the artist what specific styles you most like and then what specifically you didn’t like. For example, you might tell me after reading an excerpt of my novel or a poem, “You know, Lamoureaux, I just loooooove Nicholas Sparks’ books. I’m not much on reading Sylvia Plath or dark subjects. Your novel (or poem) lacked a love story and was a bit dark for me. But the font was outstanding. I am allll about American Typewriter.” I will then know exactly where to put your comment, nod, smile and keep on writing what I’m writing, knowing my writing just isn’t your cup of tea. For poetry or abstract art, it is probably best to think of some good open-ended questions to ask about the work to begin a conversation. But make no mistake, your artist friend does notice your lack of talking to them about their work. They want to have a conversation about their work. Not because they are needy or looking for empty praise (they can see right though that), but because they are excited about their work and want people to enjoy what they are creating.
Anyway…I am stepping off my soapbox (for now) and going to let this one go. I will tend to my writing and pictures of middle fingers.
Keep being the music makers and dreamers of dreams.
[Here’s Lita rockin’ out…if you were here for THAT… click here… (I wouldn’t want to disappoint any Lita diehards who stopped in) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L0bkMDbebxc ]