Over the last few weeks, a mini-drama has played itself out behind my blog.
I received a “fan mail” from a person who wanted to buy a necklace. By the second exchange, the person wrote an email that sounded like she’d copied my work and had changed her mind about the necklace.
I ran the exchange by several people whose professional opinion I respect and trust. All read the email the same way, and all were outraged by it.
I wrote an article about how this issue affects artists. To make a dramatic point, I published some of the email exchange between this person and me. I felt I had something important to say about the people who–innocently or not–cause artists such misery. It happens to us all the time–the “fan” who says, “I just love your work, and I’m going to go home and make something just like it.”
I didn’t publish the person’s name or any contact information, but her words were out there for all to see.
The person wrote back, deeply hurt and claiming she’d meant no such thing. She insisted I retract the post. She said it was a personal attack on her, and not fair.
She said I was as much to blame as her. And though she said she was sorry things had gotten out of hand, it felt more like, “I’m sorry you’re so sensitive.”
I pointed out that I had a right to my feelings. I said I still didn’t know what her real intentions were. I said MY intentions were not to humiliate her, but simply to write about how much these incidents hurt, and how I got past it.
She responded again, insisting I remove the post, and saying again it was a huge misunderstanding.
I got angrier and angrier. I was determined to stick to my guns. I knew I was right. Most of my community supported me. A very few didn’t.
Then something happened.
I noticed that it just didn’t feel right.
Several issues came to mind, and they are convoluted. I’ll spare you the tangled workings of my mind there!
I decided to give the person a chance to show they’d acted in good faith.
I emailed her one last time.
Send me one of the little horses you made, I told her. I’d like to see it. Give me the name of the animal rescue organization you were going to give them to, to raise money. Let ME donate a horse necklace to them. It does sound like a good cause, and I’d be happy to help.
Do this, and I’ll take the post down.
Now, I haven’t heard a word back since then.
But I felt much, much better.
Late last night, though, I realized it still wasn’t enough. I talked more with my husband, whose opinion I always respect.
My husband said, “It seems that this particular person–who sounded like she was going to copy your work–took all the brunt of all the pain in you, caused by other people who did copy your work, and bragged about it.”
And he was right.
I also realized I was afraid. By selling my work in a more public online venue, I was opening up the likelihood that more people would indeed copy me. That’s scary.
But recognizing my fear just made me more determined to get back to square one.
I believe the world can only heal from all the anger and evil in the world when we step back from being right, and focus on being whole.
I believe when we make decisions based on fear, we are not acting in our best interest, nor the best interest of the world at large.
My art and my writing have always been about making better choices. Maybe even better choices than I can always make in my personal life. (I can be very impatient and judgmental of people. And I’m afraid of a lot things!)
Regarding this person’s actual intentions….I cannot fully know, or control, other people’s intentions.
I can only know mine.
My intentions are to make the artwork that makes me feel whole. My intention is to write in ways that inspire other people to know their true intentions. And to make their own powerful work. To play it forward.
I got caught up in being right. I may have been right. But maybe I was wrong.
I certainly have a right to my own feelings. And I have the right to write about them. But I can do it in a way that doesn’t make a scapegoat of a person who may or may not deserve it.
I want to focus on the power of my intentions, and get to a better place in my heart.
In that spirit, I’ve removed the post, and I fully apologize for my role in this.