March 4, 2011
Once one conquers the fear of one’s self, then there stands the fear of others with which to grapple. Bayles and Orland continue their discussion in Art and Fear by looking at fears about others.
“Art rarely emerges from committees,” they write. In other words, our writing comes from within ourselves. To look for approval from others is to give our art to a committee. The perils of being different are scary because they divide us from “others”. When we allow others to criticize our work and then let that criticism guide our future work, then we are giving ourselves and our art away. That is not saying to ignore criticism. However, to write to the audience is wrong.
For instance, vampires are big in literature now. But if you sat down to write a vampire book, when your real calling was to write a fantasy, then you are giving your work to the critic; you are prostituting your craft.
To give that power of control to others is denying your own gift as a writer. You are saying that your ideas, your expression, your technique are not as good as the audience. And that’s definitely not true.
Fearing what others think is to let popular favor guide, no push, you into what they want rather than to honor what your heart is producing. It’s all about having faith in yourself and in your particular, unique craft.
One of the tactics Bayles and Orland suggest is to leave some space between creation and presentation. After I write a poem, I have a drawer I slip it into. I date the poem and then leave it. When I return to it, not only do I look at it with a fresh critical eye, but I also see it as art rather than a part of my Self. Having Self torn apart in criticism is devastating. Having one’s poem critiqued is bearable – often very helpful.
“If the need for acceptance is the need to have your work accepted as art, then the accompanying fear is finding it dismissed as craft, hobby or decoration – or as nothing,” they write. Acceptance and approval are power held by others. Are you willing to give that much power to your reader or critic?