The Heart of an Artist
Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree Ebb and Flow.
Artists wear their work like a second skin, and flinch when their art is not as cared for, particularly by someone important to them. Â And when Â their Â art Â is appreciated, they glow.
Whether our medium is paper, paint, pixels, or measures of music, we wear our art wrapped around our hearts like no other professions. It is a part of us, and itâ€™s important that that part be as nurtured as any other of us.
Iâ€™ve often been criticized for decisions Iâ€™ve made or methods Â Iâ€™ve Â tried Â in Â my Â career Â as Â a Â negotiator. Â You know what? Fuck it. I donâ€™t care what all the anal retentives say. Iâ€™ve just as often been handed Â awards for my negotiation Â work. Â You Â know Â what? Â Fuck Â that, Â too. (Unless Â it Â directly Â saves Â livesâ€¦that Â I Â care Â a Â bit Â more about.)
The point Â is, in my non-artistic Â work, Â itâ€™s removed from Â my Â emotions, Â from Â my Â identity, Â from Â my Â self- worth. Itâ€™s funny that Iâ€™d think of it as separate from my identity because I have so often over the past decade or two put everything I had into my day job, and yet, itâ€™s still not as up-close and personal as my identity as a writer. I am an amalgam of emotions and ideas, and my day job is more of just the latter, with no allowance for the former. (Angry female = out of control bitch; crying or compassionate female = out of control weakling.) Iâ€™m more of a whole person as a writer because I can indulge my creative and analytical side at once.
Iâ€™ve heard writers over the years complain (almost exclusively women) Â that Â their Â significant Â others Â wouldnâ€™t readÂ theirÂ books, Â wouldnâ€™t Â discuss Â plots Â except Â to Â tell them what they should be writing, and had no interest at all in their artistic/creative Â world except for the income. Most of the male writers I know seem to get tons of loving support from their wives and girlfriends, who handle all the mundane and sometimes the business side of their lives to make time for the writer Â to (gasp!) write. Their work is viewed as important and fulfilling whereas my female writer pals are more likely to have their work treated as a hobby or even as competition by their spouses. I realize itâ€™s not that way in every case, but in the majority of what Iâ€™ve seen as a published writer for the past decade, this rule holds true.
Some writers have told me that it doesnâ€™t matter to them that Â their Â husbands Â never read their work. A few have told me that repeatedly. I donâ€™t believe them. These arenâ€™t Â businesswomen Â who Â just Â happen Â to Â be Â putting their expertise Â into a book as a different Â venue Â to Â disseminate their ideas. These are writers with writersâ€™ blood and writersâ€™ hearts. Thereâ€™s a difference in the writer who is an artist at heart and the businessperson Â whoâ€™s simply writing a book.
I donâ€™t believe them because it was too importantÂ to me that the Â people I loved appreciate my writing. They didnâ€™t have to read every Â word. They didnâ€™t have to be fans of romance or science fiction or womenâ€™s action ad- venture or spiritual musings. But once in a great while, it would Â have Â made Â my Â heart Â soar Â to Â hear Â a kind Â word about Â my Â writing, Â to hear that theyâ€™d Â actually Â read the book and liked a plot point or a turn of a phrase or some- thing a character Â did resonated with them or the ending made them cry or they laughed out loud while reading my book Â in Â a Â public Â place. Â I Â heard Â all Â those Â things Â from strangers, but Â very, Â very Â rarely Â from the Â people Â in my closest circles.
And that hurt. It hurt terribly that my ex liked to display my books publicly and proudly, but heâ€™d never read them. Even when he claimed he was trying to be supportive of my writing and to like it, it still took eons to get him to read a 30-page critically acclaimed anthology story. I hate having to beg someone to be supportive of some- thing that means so much to me when theyâ€™re telling me how hard theyâ€™re trying to save our marriage. I learned in 1993 at Â a Â little Â Mexican Â restaurant Â in Â Niceville Â that Â I couldnâ€™t excitedly discuss a potential plot, especially a suspense Â novel Â heavy Â on Â body Â count. Â One Â little Â â€œWhoâ€™d want to read that?!â€ stopped my plotting and my writing of that manuscript,Â even though Iâ€™d already written 100 pages of it and had an editor in NYC who wanted to see it pronto. If my life partner hated it, why would anyone else care for it? Not that he was requiredÂ to love it, but surely he could have found something positive say other than, â€œDo you want me to lie to you?â€
After Iâ€™d filed for divorce, he read more of my work than he did Â during our entire marriageâ€¦and Â proceeded to bludgeon me with it because he couldnâ€™t separate fact from fiction in Â a Â book Iâ€™d written a decade before. His friends, with their little notes dropped to me, were best at reflecting Â his Â opinions Â of Â my Â work Â as Â â€œuselessâ€ Â and â€œpathetic.â€ Itâ€™s not that I didnâ€™t already know how he felt about such Â an Â important Â part Â of Â me, Â but Â since Â theyâ€™d never read my books, I knew where their opinions came from.
My daughters are just the opposite. Theyâ€™re everything I could hope for when it comes to loving support. Aislinn, while too Â young to read my stories, has heard the plots on long car trips. Shannon has devoured my action- adventure novels, Â lovedÂ Dark Revelations, loved Â Eye of the Serpent, helped me plot out Lilahâ€™s story. She hasnâ€™t read everything Â Iâ€™ve written Â but she â€œgetsâ€ Â it. The evidence shines in her eyes when we talk.
By dredging this up now, Iâ€™m not even complaining about my ex. Â Not anymore. Heaven knows, he (and his mom) has brought Â more Â local Â readers to my blog and journals Â than Â anyone Â else Â in Â the Â geographical Â area, Â by sheer unhappy Â word of mouth. Â Ironic, Â yes. So itâ€™s not really a complaint against him anymore but rather a statement of what I need in future relationships.
I wonâ€™t repeat this aspect in a new relationship, either in a romantic relationship or with new platonic friends. If they donâ€™t â€œgetâ€ my writing, Â then they wonâ€™t â€œgetâ€ me, and I choose not to surround myself with people who are not encouraging Â of my dreams Â or accepting Â of such Â a huge part of who I am.