If you’ve been following any of my adventures as of late, you’ll know there’s been some mention of Felicia. I know, you're like, “Dude, I know already… you gave her a painting you did of her… You’ve had some connection and contact online (that sound’s creepy now that I write it)… blah, blah, blah... what is she you new best friend?” (No. actually she hasn’t returned my calls yet. ...Yet. …Ok then, back to creepy).
So I’ve been reading Felicia’s new book “You’re Never Weird on the Internet (almost)” (which is on the NY Times bestseller list, so congrats Felicia)… Anyway, then it happened. Right there on the bottom of page 137. Felicia Day kicked my ass. (“Butt” doesn’t do it justice). Speaking about a time of depression and struggling to write creatively, she states: “…I was a fraud, Who was I to pick up a pen and expect anything good to come out of it? I expected perfection as soon as the pencil hit the paper…”
There it was. Her words just hung there. Stinging. “I EXPECTED PERFECTION AS SOON AS…”
I’m no stranger to battling Perfection. I’ve tangoed a few times in my life (all in the name of "pursuing excellence” of course) and every time got my toes stepped on.
In the past, I told myself that I couldn’t really draw or paint because I wasn’t any good at photo realism. So I stopped. I didn’t draw or paint for 10-15 years. Until about 3 years ago. When I uncovered that lie and kicked it to the curb. Perfection wasn’t going to rob me of my art any more. And as a result I embraced my “mess”, which led to my loose, organic style. I've created over one thousand works over the last few years with my daily paintings and drawing. Art that would never have seen the light of day had i continued to believe the lie.
So I thought I was done. But as I read Felicia’s words, I realized Perfection shifted focus from my art creating to my art sharing. Call it marketing, PR, sharing… it’s what follows the act of creation. The desire to get my art out there for people to see, engage with, hopefully be moved by (and even purchase).
So I do what I’m supposed to do - I post to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, a blog post, an email newsletter.... the list goes on. Perfection say "send it out there and just watch." And then… crickets. Perfection then jumps on the other side of the table and says “Who are you to think anyone really cares about your art. No one want to buy it. No ones even noticed it.” So discouragement settles in. And truthfully, it’s all so tiring.
I EXPECT PERFECTION AS SOON AS I… post about that new painting for sale. People will be clamoring to buy it. But they don’t.
I EXPECT PERFECTION AS SOON AS I… post that new image. Just watch the likes and follows and reposts and… it floats by in everyones feed until it quietly disappears.
This might feel a bit "Dear Diary" but if I can be honest and authentic for a moment here (I think it's popular to say it's ok, but really it makes some people uncomfortable, so they fuel the image that you have to have it all together, in public at least... but that's another blog post, for another day), somewhere I let Perfection tell me the lie that if “success” was to come, it was going to come instantly. And if it doesn't, it’s FAILURE. But there are no overnight successes. They’re only overnight to us because we haven’t known about the hard work they’ve been putting in for years in obscurity.
No, I cannot expect perfection. And if you relate, you shouldn’t either. We need to allow ourselves some GRACE. Some Room. Some Time. As we continue to work hard at our craft.
It makes me have to face another uncomfortable question: What if no one ever notices me or my art? Is the only reward of “success” recognition, sales, shares, and fame? What if i’m destined to create my art in quite, no one watching. No crowds. No money. No applause? Would I still create? Thankfully I know my answer is YES. because to not create would cause a part of me to die. I HAVE to create. It’s part of who I am. But all the other trappings are not guaranteed.
So while I may have to go apply some BenGay to my hind-quarters, Felicia, I want to thank you. Thank you for being transparent and vulnerable with your story. I needed it. And in turn, I hope that someone benefits form my transparency and vulnerability. Let’s keep kicking ass.