ODE TO JON (Who Will Never Be Mozart) (Thank Goodness!)

We are creative because that’s part of being human. I believe the greatest harm, the greatest loss, is when we deny the world–and ourselves–the beauty and power of our individual creativity.

I got a comment on a blog post I wrote awhile back. You can read the original article here: TEN MYTHS ABOUT ARTISTS (That Will Prevent You From Becoming a SUCCESSFUL Artist…”

The reader wrote a scathing argument against my assertion, noting the usual suspects (Mozart, et al.) “Artists ARE born! Talent IS innate!”, the writer stated.

I thought long and hard about my decision. I love to hear your thoughts, your insights, your experiences, and I especially love to hear that what I’ve said has resonated with you or helped your on your own artistic journey. And I don’t mind being corrected from time to time (unless I suspect your motives.)

But finally I deleted the comment.

Let me tell you why.

First, I don’t write this blog to argue with people.

This isn’t a forum. This isn’t a venue for debate.

These are my opinions, my thoughts. My blog is a vehicle to get those thoughts out of my head and share them with others.

This blog is part of my creative process.

I totally get that you may violently disagree with me. If that’s the case, go start your own blog. Seriously. I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. Just not here in my living room.

Second, the reader totally missed the point of my article.

Of course talent is innate. Of course Mozart had tons of talent. Of course most of us aren’t Mozart, and no amount of practice will ever make it so. Heck, I can barely carry a tune anymore, let alone play an instrument.

My point was, that many, many people don’t recognize the talent they have.
They believe they’re not “good enough” to use their talent.
They believe that because they’re not good enough, there’s no use putting their work out into the world.

Look, creativity IS innate. Everybody is good at something. Even a sociopath is very, very good at lying.

Creativity is a human trait. It’s just that throughout the ages, the definition of creativity–the lines we draw around it, the forms we deem acceptable–have narrowed, and broadened, and narrowed again.

We don’t just use our hands, or our voices, to grub for food, or to yell when a predator appears on the horizon. And we don’t just use our hands to draw things. We use our hands to make things, build things, grow things, cook things (yummy chocolate things!). We fix things, heal living things, comfort living creatures. We sing, we write stories, and poetry (and blogs!) We work for peace, or freedom, or equality. We work for understanding, and acceptance, and recognition.

Even destruction can create a space for something new to appear. (I am not advocating destruction, I’m just sayin’ that Shiva’s dance does both.)

When we create, we are all that, and more.

I believe the greatest harm, the greatest loss, is when we deny the world–and ourselves–the beauty and power of our creativity.

We get way too judgy about creativity. (I made that word up. See how creative I am?)

We care waaay too much what the world will think of our efforts. We care way too much about what WE think of our efforts.

Quick story: My husband’s mother was a talented pianist as a young woman, with dreams of performing in public. But at some point, she realized she would never be a world-class pianist.

She never played the piano again.

Another quick story: My husband has been “noodling” on a guitar for as long as I’ve known him, thirty-five years. The last few years, he’s gotten more dedicated about it. He’s reaching out to play with others. He’s found new online methods of learning. He’s taking lessons. He’s considered performing in public venues, on a very modest scale. He reads books about music, about musicians, about the effect of music on the brain. He watches documentaries about music. Lord love him, he tries to drag me to every live music performance in the area.

Will he ever be famous for his guitar playing? Probably not.
Will he ever make money doing it? Nah.
Is he good? I think so, especially when he actually plays instead of practices. (I’m one of those people who winces at every sour note.)

So why does he do it?

Because he likes it. Actually…he loves.

And it makes him happy.

Innate talent?
Mozart?
True vocation?

Yes, maybe.
No.
I dunno.
Who cares?

When I look at him, deep in his practice, struggling to master a new tune or a new technique, I know he is also deep within himself. Truly himself. In the best way possible.

And that, my argumentative friend, is all that truly matters.

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9 Comments

Filed under art, creativity, myths about artists

9 responses to “ODE TO JON (Who Will Never Be Mozart) (Thank Goodness!)

  1. haydee rivera

    WELL SAID, agree with you 100%—–thanks for sharing so much with us. haydee

  2. I too agree with you that everyone does (in varying degrees) have talent. What I suspect is that the person who argued with that uses that as an excuse for not doing. “Well, I wasn’t lucky enough to be born with talent like you!” When what they are really saying is ” I am too lazy to develop whatever talent I do have..” Now if you have no interest in making something fine but don’t reduce it to merely “being born with talent” because that discounts the 90% of sweat that is put into a project.

  3. Hi Luann,

    I love what you wrote and it touched my heart. I have no idea why people send mean comments. I sent a newsletter two weeks ago and someone wrote “Your work is so ugly”. I was going to respond, but instead I unsubscribed her from the newsletter. I’ll try to forward a copy to you of that newsletter.

    Warm Hugs,

    Sherrill Kahn

  4. I applaude your decision to not debate or defend but to express YOUR understanding. I wrote a memoir about the death of a son. I had never planned nor thought of writing, nor studied the writing process. It took me years because I wanted to do the best I could taking classes, workshops and writing. I’ve never been sorry because it opened doors to something I would never had thought to do. Thank you for reminding us that creativity isn’t just about producing great works. It is about find your joy or love or happiness in the process of creating.

  5. I totally agree. Fear, of other’s judginess?, inhibits a lot of people’s creativity. Who knows what we’re missing because of it…

  6. You always make me smile. I give classes where I “enable” people to find out they can draw inspite of that 3rd grade teacher who shut them down with a thoughtless comment (That’s not a fish) I tell my enabled drawing participants that everything they do is great, that it takes great courage to come back to draw. (Or learn to play a guitar) and every mark made is progress. No erasing! It is not an erasing class.
    Folks go away feeling good about their efforts, their discovery that it doesn’t matter what that 3rd grade teacher said. They may move forward. They may stall but for a bit of time they have found that part of themselves that wants and needs to create and really one can’t ask for more than that.
    Nicely done.

  7. Trisha

    Luann,
    You just keep on keepin’ on! You do quite well what you do, and if they don’t like it – well …. that is their loss.
    Trisha :)

  8. Thanks love. I will try to move some of the practice to my cozy new office and reserve the playing for the living room :-)

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