I subscribe to Seth Godin’s blog. He may be an expert on marketing, but a lot of his posts also offer incredible insights into how to have a life well-lived.
Yesterday’s post was no exception. I was gonna skip it, because the title was odd. “Abnormal” did not sound like a good fit for my day.
And yet, it was exactly what I needed to read:
“Are you hesitant about this new idea because it’s a risky, problematic, defective idea…
or because it’s simply different than you’re used to?
If your current normal is exactly what you need, then different isn’t worth exploring. For the rest of us, it’s worth figuring out where our discomfort with the new idea is coming from.”
I’ve been writing for the online art marketing newsletter, Fine Art Views for many years now. At first, I focused more on marketing, salesmenship, display and lighting at fine craft shows, etc.
But more and more, as I struggled with my own role as an artist in this modern world, I shared deeper thoughts and musings: What it’s like to be a woman in the art world. (Kinda scary, sometimes!) What it’s like when you realize your sales aren’t great, and it’s really hard to figure out how to change that. (Do you quit? Or do you keep on? What’s the point??) What do you say when someone insults your work? (Snappy comeback at their expense? Or something so deep and embracing, it challenges them to look again?)
I write mostly what I’ve learned along the way, the powerful things others have taught me, and how to be a force for good in the universe.
I try to tread carefully on posts I know may trigger critical comments, and use humor often. Most of the comments complain my articles are too long. (To be fair, they complain all the FAV articles are too long, but especially mine. I started finding the word count and adding “7 minute read”, so that people who don’t have seven minutes could pass.)
But nothing stops a truly negative person. I actually did a series called “Haters Gonna Hate”, about how we cannot possible please everyone with our work and how to move on to focus on the people who do…..
And almost every article drew a comment (or three) complaining about me using the word “hate”. Because….I kid you not….they hated it.
I am always happy to engage in a discussion, because that benefits everyone in the end.
But over the last few years, I’ve gotten some toxic comments that were so out-of-line, they took my breath away. And although every writer on the site gets slammed from time to time, I seemed to get more. (I seriously think it’s because for a few years, I was the sole female writer in a historically male-dominated art world.)
I’ve learned not to slam back. (Not my usual style anyway.) I’ve tried to explain why my reality may not be theirs, and that’s okay. (Though the commenter usually thinks THEIR reality is the “real one”.) I always wait until the pain and frustration softens, so I can respond with my highest, best self.
And now, my editor has agreed to move the weekday my articles are published, so they can monitor those toxic posts better. (I chose Saturdays, but because the editorial staff is not available on weekends, I had to sit with that poison for two more days before they could be deleted.)
So back to Seth’s blog post yesterday.
I think this is why I get such blowback from some of my columns.
I’m sharing something so different from the traditional definition of “artist”, the way an artist measures their success, and including those who don’t even consider themselves a “real artist”, it is
People accuse me of misreading the term “triggering”.
But I think that’s exactly what happens. What I’m writing about is a different thing from what they believe is “true.” So they find it problematic, defective, instulting….instead of just “different.”
I love it when people sit with the “different”, and reconsider their assumptions and definitions about “real art” and “real artists”.
It means I did it right.
I’m comfortable exploring the “different”. I don’t need to change because they aren’t.
I’ve always said, from the very beginning of my art career, “My art isn’t for everyone.” I can sit with that.
And I also know my writing is not for everyone, and I can sit with that, too.
No one is forced to buy my art, nor read my writing. (In fact, even now, if you hate reading this, you can…..delete it! (Takes a second, and poof, it’s gone!)
But here’s who I write for.
People who struggle constantly with, “Am I good enough?”
People who work hard on their art, their art skills, their marketing, their social media, and still can’t rely on good sales.
People who wonder what the point of making art is, if no one wants to buy it.
People who think they’re doing it wrong.
People who think everyone else is doing it right.
People who don’t see other artists like them in the world.
People whose social circle constantly diminish or demean their choice of subject, medium, color palette, style, etc.
And of course, people who want advice on selling, marketing, customer service, display, etc. etc. etc.
I always preface or end with the statement, “If what you’re doing works for you, don’t change it!!”
And yet, although, of course, I always think I’m right (I’m human!!!) I also recognize the power of emotional and social growth. The power of changing my mind. Seeing the life lessons and tiny gifts in the hard times. Crossing the path of people who DO know better than I, and who share their hard-earned insights with people like me.
And so, although sometimes my words hit the wrong places in the wrong people, I will keep on writing until I can’t.
A big thank you to those who like what I write (at least most of the time) and who share your own comments and insights. You are proof that we all have something that can lift someone’s heart and encourage them to pursue their own creative work. You also show that you are a true, open spirit in the world, embracing every step of the journey. You make my heart sing!
Because the world needs our art, no matter what form it takes. Creativity of any kind is a force for light in the universe. (My Star Wars mantra!)
In this vein, if you are reading this today and like it, pass it on to someone else who might enjoy it, too.
And if someone who has your back, forwarded this to you, and you like it, you can sign up for more at my blog here.