Originally posted on Facebook HERE
Anytime we do something with the arts, we make ourselves vulnerable. Music, painting, writing… whatever it is, once it’s out there for anyone else to see, to touch, to read… you open yourself up to feedback, both positive and negative. It’s a scary place to be, especially when you have a lot of insecurity about whatever it is you’re doing. Like when you’re just first starting out. I started playing bass guitar when I was 14 years old. Back then I had a $20 Kingston bass and played it through my stereo, that was my first setup. I had no idea what I was doing, but I loved it. A friend of mine who played guitar taught me a couple easy songs, we got together with a drummer, and I was hooked. I met other musicians, we’d get together and play for hours and hours. We didn’t care if we were any good or not, it was just for fun. Then my first public performance was at a YMCA dance in 1977. I still have the cassette recording from that night. We didn’t even have a singer. All instrumental. I had a mic only to talk to the crowd. And I moved on from there. One cool thing about being in a band – you’re not alone. So, if you get criticized – there’s a few friends in the same boat to commiserate with. But throughout all the years I’ve been playing, even today – I have times where I wonder why I’m doing it at all. When I see other players so much better than me, or struggle to learn something new, it’s not that hard to get frustrated and consider just giving it up entirely. Most artists probably suffer from insecurity at some point. But when the art is just yours – yours alone – painting, sculpting, writing – well, then you’re really out there on an island. And you have to put your work out there while inside there’s all these emotions about “is this any good at all?”… like these weekly posts. Like my books. Every week, I just write with no forethought – some weeks there’s a tremendous outlay of support that certainly helps boost my confidence and keep going, other weeks – there isn’t. Last weeks post was highly ignored. When I wrote it, I thought to myself “not my best work”, and from the lack of public interest it seems I was correct. It feels pretty bad when that happens, but around the same time I released my 5th book – the third in the “Looking Out My Back Window” series (one for each year of these posts). As of today I haven’t sold even one copy. Ouch. The blog books don’t sell as well as the two other books, but – not even one. I did a giveaway – a free book if you’ll just agree to read it and review it on Amazon – one taker. That kind of response (or lack of it) can really make you question whether you want to keep doing it at all. About a month or so ago, I had another “clunker” of a post and followed it up with several that got massively positive feedback. It comes in waves – the roller coaster of emotions. Even with bands, you have those nights where everything is awesome, the crowd is great and you’re on top of the world – and gigs that just stink from the get go. The emotional roller coaster is totally based on what’s outside of us, but it can stop us dead in our tracks, especially if we get negative feedback early in the process. Why should we care what anyone else thinks if we have the desire to create something? When we were getting ready for the Y dance we just had fun – if painting, writing, or any other creative endeavor bring you joy – who cares what other people think? Creating something can be very cathartic. And, what if… what if you touch the life of just one other person in a positive way? Doesn’t that make it worth it? That Y dance lead to me playing bass for another 43+ years now, thousands of gigs, many recordings, and bringing joy to countless lives throughout the years. I’ve gotten tons of positive feedback about my books (still nothing but five star reviews for every book on Amazon) and blog posts, so isn’t it expected that there will be ups and downs, like anything in life? Let your own heart guide you. Don’t let someone else’s negativity steal your passion.