* My apologies for going long tonight...
Dear friend, so many things I've suddenly wanted to write you about. So many unrelated things on my busy little brain. I won't hit you with them all at once, but here's a short list.
1. Success & Celebrity
2. Internet OCD
Tonight we'll go with: Success
It's a very strange thing to have to "sell" one's own work, whatever sort of work it is.
If we find ourselves at a place (finally) where we value our own work enough to want to share it with the world beyond, and hopefully, support ourselves financially, we have to face this beast called "self-promotion." So awkward. So uncomfortable.
But (eventually and with some prodding) we do it. We put it out there and we wait tense and unbreathing for some positive sign of being well-received by someone other than our mother.
Oh, the pain of waiting...
(p.s. If I have ever made you wait for a response to your artistic efforts, I sincerely apologize. I know how bad that feels and don't wish you to feel it.)
And when acknowledgment comes...how sweet it is. Like a water mister at Six Flags on a July day. Joy. Relief. Excitement. Hope!
It makes possible the next effort. Who of us continues to be brave without being lifted up now and then?
But then...how many accolades are necessary in order for us to take ourselves, our own work, seriously? To give it weight?
Someone said enthusiastically to my friend, also an independent singer/songwriter: "I hope you make it!"
Of course - it's an expression of love and support and it should be received as such. (Let's not be easily offended.)
But I do wonder if these words we utter aren't also a subconscious indicator of just how saturated we are in a consumeristic and celebrity-driven society? Don't they sting because they betray the doubt that's already there in each of us, under the skin?
The voice that says, "This - what you offer - doesn't really matter."
Afterall, this friend is actively working in the profession of her choice, creating new musical art every day, carving out a living doing what she loves, contributing to the community. Is this not "having it made"? Do we really need to be featured on MTV or win an award or become a household name before we can feel legitimate in our work, in our very life?
When pressed, I'm sure few of us would argue the point, and yet it slips out: I hope you make it.
And then there's the fact that each of us who decides to step out and show something we've created must face that inner ugliness that does actually desire fame and celebrity, or at least, the praise of men. It's there, under the skin, just a little bit.
Because then I'd be a "real" artist.
According to the Christian faith (which is my faith), that's not what I'm supposed to be after. In fact, just the opposite. I'm supposed to want Creator God to be great - and me to become less.
I'm supposed to desire balance and right perspective in my life.
I'm supposed to love others as I love myself and desire their good before my own.
To walk humbly with my God.
How in the world do we self-promote and also voluntarily become less?? I do believe it's possible to grow a thriving business, or to make a living from one's work (yes, even art), and still "become less" spiritually speaking.
I'm just saying...it's tricky business.
There are hierarchies which become established among artists, and arrogance and insecurity both. We want to be part of certain circles, and pride often follows the connections and acceptance and praise. It's not pretty.
I'm saying this here because...I want no part of it. I want you to want no part of it, because we don't need another celebrity. Let's instead build a community that reminds each other of the truth that we are just that: a community of people, each with something to share at the table. Doesn't matter what it is.
I need what you offer, even as you need what I offer.
A few months ago, Matt Bronleewe and I wrote a song called "Sunrise" (not yet recorded). This is how it begins, and this is my conviction:
One brings a song and one beats the drum
One builds a shelter so others will come
One starts a fire, and one grinds the grain
We are gathered from the fields and the rain
Strangers with one strange hope...
written in love,