I recently read a fantastic novel that Bertie recommended. It’s Leah Bobet’s An Inheritance of Ashes. I don’t often review books, and I especially don’t usually rate books with stars or numbers or other things that can be calculated coldly, but I wanted to make sure that my friends didn’t miss this one. Bertie and I have each written reviews over on Goodreads, and you can see them there. A review isn’t the point of this post.
What I came here to say is that many of us creative folks are strangely vulnerable to beauty and craftsmanship. When a work really strikes us, it can really strike us: a blow to the creative spirit. There’s a potential danger then of invidious comparisons to our own strivings. I found myself prey to this a couple of times during this reading: this thought, this emotion, so perfectly conveyed! And then the sneaking corollary: what could I ever say to equal that? I’ve never been a jealous writer. I have, however, been a despairing writer. And it’s important to train yourself to let that feeling go.
I’m just putting this out here so that if you’re that vulnerable creative, and you’ve been struck painfully by some drawing or painting or story or elegant mathematical explanation: know that you’re not alone in that momentary experience of pure inadequacy. And that while this piece of creation you’re observing is wonderful, true, please note that it is not only okay but essential that what you are creating is not the same. You are not Leah Bobet (unless you are Leah Bobet stopping by, in which case HI!), nor are you Michelangelo (unless you are, in which case WEIRD and please drop me an e-mail).
Similarly, the person who will be the observer of your work is not you. And you never know when the creation you release into the world will be just what resonates to that other person.
Somebody may be waiting for what you have to say.