“I have to be honest with you,” she said with frank and sincere eyes, “When you got on stage, my friends and I were skeptical. You look like you are twelve! All I could think was ‘What could this girl possibly know about life? What can she offer us?’ I was wrong. My heart has been so inspired and challenged by your wisdom and your faith.”
I like this kind of honesty because-
As a person with a small platform, it is a somber reminder that just because I get on stage and open my mouth doesn’t mean people will like me, give me the benefit of the doubt, or hear a word I say. There is something that must first be earned.
A gentle reminder to the artist, author, musician and storyteller that we must, as creative birthers, continually earn the trust and respect of those we serve, guide, challenge, delight and nurture through our craft. Just because I have created in the past, and some people have liked the creation, does not mean that the present group of people entrusted to me know about those bygone days (or care!). They are standing before someone they do not know- usually with time and money invested- and with great care I must seek to find a type of common ground by which to earn the ears of their hearts.
Nothing is just given. No matter how many books you’ve written, songs you’ve sung, masterpieces you have created. Each new person, audience, or gathering must be viewed by the creative giver, as a clean pallet which you gladly divest yourself into- all over again!- for the sake of authenticity in the creation of rapport between yourself and the person at hand who has not yet decided to give you the ears of their heart. It is painstaking, really. But creators who take seriously the sharing of their craft must daily choose to value the soul of another and give from a place that is simultaneously authentic to themselves and yet seeks to persuade and engage the hearts and minds of those consuming their work. Not to say we create art based solely on the needs of those who might consume our art. But that as we create- we take the stage- pick up the paint brush- write the story- sing the song- design the graphics -capture the photo -write the poetry- we do so with a gentle reminder that if our aim is to share our craft, then our job is to not only create, but to continually earn the privilege to paint the strokes and write the melodies of another human being’s story.
In humility we create not only because it is unavoidable for us to do so- but because we know we are called to share something of ourselves for a bigger, higher purpose; we are the birthers of the very melodies that bring forth life and lay lay life to rest. What a privilege. What a responsibility. We fool ourselves if we get lost in our position, our success, our art- and think that we are above earning the respect and the ears of those who might take our melodies to heart. When creators bring forth new words, songs, canvases, sermons, poems- taking the painstaking time to invest new energy into old hat- they submit their work to becoming a living, breathing, craft which serves and bears in mind the ever changing human who arrives new, at their doorstep, wondering if they can let the creator in.
Creators who ride the coattails of that one creation- a long time ago- that legendary name- that one song- that glory year- give the world bad art. They are not creating. They are simply re-living. And re-living is dangerous. The original moment of glory is too easily turned into a saint and the more time that passes, the more over-glorified that one moment becomes. Eventually the once-creator forgets whether they really created something worthwhile in the first place? They become diluted with feelings, numbers, adulation and disillusioned with their past and their future as it pertains to creating. They either quit all together or constantly re-live something that no longer carries with it any real-time authenticity and they ache and feel hollow and look heartless.
You can create once and for all. Or you can constantly create. If you aim to serve people with your art, be prepared, people change. So what we create must change as well. There is only so long you can ride a coattail (even your own) only so many times you can tell the same story or perform the same regurgitated set. When trying to earn the ears to a person’s heart- beware- most people know old art. It has a tired stench about it. So create all over again. And then, engage all over again. Earn the right to be heard all over again. It’s exhausting. But there is no once and for all button. We constantly create. We constantly connect.
We have to fight for the right to open our mouths and be more than an adorable 12-year-old girl who can’t possibly have anything to offer. Were there a sign I could wear around my neck detailing my sin, shame, misfortune, adventures and the fact that I’ve been married for 12-years… I might wear it. And once and for all settle all questions and doubts about my being qualified or trustworthy!!!
But then I would forget the very people who sit in front of me- and forget that I must earn the right to be heard by them- and forget that I must not only struggle to create but also struggle to connect, because the true creator must be about both. Submitting themselves all over again to only being 12-years-old and word by word, melody by melody, page by page persuading the purveyor that indeed, theirs is a creation trustworthy of soul occupation.
Every creator who aims to share their creation should have moments where they are reminded that the trust and respect of their audience must be cultivated, re-cultivated, re-cultivated, and cultivated once more. It’s as though we are always fighting for a small voice into another person’s soul. Excuse me- can I penetrate your thoughts and soul?- is essentially what we are doing when we lay bare our creations and ask another to let us in. It is no small request. And the true creator knows this.
The true creator works with an awed privilege as they watch their craft come to life and endeavor to share it with others. They listen to the lady who was sincerely inspired by a girl she thought very little of and realize all over again
a spot in someone’s soul is worth fighting for
again and again and again