Art & Fear

I met a woman last week who suggested I need to face, and overcome, my fear.  She knows virtually nothing about me, except that I write and that I do not call myself a writer. When she was told by someone who introduced us that I’m a writer, she said, “Oh, you’re a writer!” I responded with, “Well, I write.”

That’s what set her off. She immediately recommended I read a book entitled Art & Fear.  She said it would change my life. The book, written by David Bayles and Ted Orland, was written (as I understand it) for visual artists, but this woman (who is a painter) insisted it would force me to admit to, and celebrate, that I am an artist of the written word.

My fear, of course, is that I will read the book and take its lessons to heart, only to discover I am an imposter, a guy who writes but is not a writer, a man who imagines painting but who has no skills with a brush.  That’s the fear she wants me to confront, I suppose, but I’m not sure I’m ready for the disappointment.  I know some  people will laugh at my fear, they will say it doesn’t matter whether I’m an artist or a writer, only that I want to be one.  Those are the people who do not understand, even a little, what is tearing at the edges of my soul. These are the questions that mercilessly rip me to shred, offering no compassion.  I know I am not an artist, but I need to be one.  There’s nothing to be done when that dilemma is faced and accepted for its ugly reality.

Finally, I suppose, one must accept that not everyone is an artist, not even those who fervently wish to be.  That’s where the fear is greatest and that’s where acceptance of the fear has to start.

Words rarely fail me, but they have failed me miserably in expressing how I feel about all of this.  It’s far more oppressive and burdensome and painful than my words would suggest. Yet, maybe, the fact that my words are inadequate is a sign that it’s not that important, after all. And, perhaps most importantly of all, I will not allow myself to be defined by what I cannot do, nor by what I wish for but cannot achieve.  That’s madness on steroids.  I won’t have it.

I guess I should read the book.  But now I’m afraid to learn what it may have to teach. BS. I am able to take it in, all of it!  Let the war of the wills begin!


About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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One Response to Art & Fear

  1. Millie says:

    You, John Swinburn, are a writer.

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