Is Someone Watching Me?

paintbrush“Mom! Look at this!”

I hold up my artwork.

Horses. Princesses. Flowers. Mermaids. Castles. Repeat.

I remember when I wanted to be a visual artist. Drawing after drawing of the above subjects, in just about every creative combination you could think of. I’d show these drawings to my mother, filled with delight and joy because I had made something that I deemed beautiful.

Then I grew up and somehow decided I had to impress the whole darn world before I could just anything I created ‘good.’ Jeeze. Way to raise the bar, Elise.

Nothing wrong with aspiring for excellence, folks. But I keep trying to remember that, by and large, excellence is objective, and will withstand the test of time, whether or not its instantly recognized for what it is.

I started out as a goody two-shoes who aimed to please her parents. In school, I strove for good grades. In writing, I strove for acceptance via publication, then for positive reviews, then for large sales. (Hint: trying to get the next big acceptance never really stops until you decide to make it stop).

I don’t want to live like a judge or crowd is watching me. It means I’ll second-guess every decision I make.

I want to create in the same way that I made my first drawings of princesses riding horses with flowers in their hair. And in case you were wondering, both the horses and the princesses were wearing flowers in their hair, because more flowers means more beauty. I made those drawings with pure delight.

Forget whether or not you can sell it. Make it for yourself. Make it for God. It’s the only way to make anything really good anyway, because this is the only way to keep it real.

Don’t know about you, but I forget the truth so easily.

What’s your earliest memory of creating for pure joy?


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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. I think that not getting paid as a writer has taught me to write for myself more, to write for joy. There’s really no logical reason to try and please that capital-A Audience if I’m not getting a contract. This is both freeing and sad. It is nice to be validated, but it is rare, and fleeting when it happens. This was an interesting post!

    1. Yes! I think that writing without pay must force you to think about why it is that you’re writing at all. And you’re spot on to remember that being validated is such a fleeting thing. It feels great for about one day. Then you’re back to the daily grind. But I truly believe that writing something that we are pleased with is the best way to write our best work, which, if we can only remember this, will serve us well.

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