Standing in Your Own Light

First: Thanks to all of you who have said kind, supportive, wonderful things about my 1,500 blog posts. It feels big and I’m proud. There would be no blog without readers and those who leave comments.

For about 12 hours yesterday, WordPress was not accessible to me–I couldn’t get to the blog or read the comments. So I’m a bit behind. Yes, there will still be a drawing, it will still be tonight (if I can get to the blog) but it will take a few days to answer all the comments.

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Many of the people who leave comments are artists. All of them are creative, even if they don’t believe it. My first reaction, when I finally could read the comments, was to explain to everyone who said something nice that they were wrong, that I don’t have a lot of energy, and I’m just a creative stumbler with a sense of humor.

And that would be a mistake. The same mistake many artists make. It’s hard to admit to your creativity. Hard to live up to big ideas. Strenuous to live up to your own expectations. But it’s important that you stand up and represent your own creativity. That you stand in your own light.

Never say “just” when you explain how you do your work. If you are a photographer you don’t “just” use a digital camera. If you are a book binder, you don’t “just” stitch folios together. Those are skills you learned and got good at over time. Don’t diminish your skills. You worked hard for them. Explain them with dignity. Your soul deserves that.

When someone offers a compliment, don’t talk about your mistakes. So many artists I praise, immediately show me the mistake in the piece, the error in their plan, the flaw in their thinking. Those mistakes, flaws and error made that piece the thing of beauty (is a joy forever, thank you John Keats). You did all the work–from concept to final polish. The mistakes you made are your private learning tool, and don’t need to be shown to everyone who likes the final product. Knowing your mistakes doesn’t enhance their experience.

Work deeply, learn about yourself, and be proud of what you’ve learned. That’s the difference between an artist who keeps going and one who quits, disappointed in life.

Quinn McDonald is a writer who is working on her second book, The Inner Hero Art Journal: Mixed Media Messages to Your Inner Critic.