I thought of something last night that I didn’t feel so comfortable sharing here. If I were still writing privately in 750words.com, I’d have no problem writing about it in safe anonymity, but admitting to it in public was something I felt (feel!) really squeamish about.
When I put a piece of art out into the public world, I feel exposed – but usually pretty hopeful that that it will achieve some kind of connection with someone out there. I really like the ego-swelling praise of my Facebook friends. It feels a little like when kids run up with a drawing or lego construction, waving it not just in my face but so close to my eyes that I can’t see it, with no decorum or awareness of what else I might be involved with at that moment. “Look at me! Look what I did! Aren’t I great?! Tell me! Tell me! Tell me! And not just in likes, use your words!”.
But some things I release just drop like a stone into a glass bowl and the only feedback I get is the echo of its impact; hollow and lonely. And it often feels that it’s those things that I’ve put the most personal weight on that land so flat. I have a suspicion that there’s stuff going on with Facebook’s algorithm that lowers the rank of certain links that are shared, and the stuff that I’m personally more invested in tends to get put on its own website.
Well, that’s my ego-protecting hope, anyway.
Around Christmas time, I started to grow an idea for a long-term art project I wanted to work on. Amongst other things, I’m working with a methodology that’s partially described as Parts Therapy (I’m not sure if the links I’ve found describe what I’m doing perfectly; I’m not undergoing any hypnosis. Or at least not that I recall!). I am lucky enough to have an extremely visual brain and tend to visualise different parts of me as anthropomorphic animals, weird hybrid creatures or differently looking versions of myself. Their appearance often leaps into my brain, like Athena, fully formed in shape and personality.
So it occurred to me, with prompting from my therapist that I would spend some time drawing them and my interactions with them in the little moments of my days. I was really excited about both creating these drawings and also sharing them in public, but I wanted to make sure it would be something I’d do on a pretty regular schedule, so first I needed to build up a bit of a back-log of them. I currently have 8 created, and have released two of them into the wild so far.
The second dropped last night to echoing silence, and I’m feeling ashamed of my disappointed reaction. You see, ostensibly I’m doing this work for me. So it shouldn’t matter what kind of a reaction I get from others. And yet.
I feel a little deflated. Here is me, or a true part of me, dissected and labelled in paper and ink – and if you know how to read it, you are reading me.
I think I view the silence as a failure on my part to do what part of me believes all art should do: communicate. I’ve failed to strike a chord, to get my message across, and worst of all, that most heinous of sins: I’ve tried too much. I’ve cared too hard. It matters to me, and it’s not just the creation that matters to me, but its impact or lack thereof matters to me.
So, previously I would have just swallowed all of that down and and pretended I wasn’t having any of those awkward, embarrassing and needy feelings. I would have hidden it even from myself, let alone from you, my dear few readers. I feel good about sharing, about admitting this, but I’m also feeling kind of nervous. The potential for judgement is strong and I have absolutely no control over what the world thinks of me. I often get the delusion that I can manipulate perceptions of me, and what kind of odd double-think is it to believe that I have the insight to see through others’ charades, yet they wouldn’t have the ability to do the same with me! What arrogance. It probably hearkens back to the days when I thought I was the only real human (or the only real alien) on the planet.
Maybe let’s not get into that right now though. I have a 5-year-old’s birthday party to get to and not yet showered.
By the way, here it is: Not Funny, Just True: Dramatic Flying Tree Squirrel.