Please all and you please none. I think Confucius said that. Or Oprah.
Maybe Confucius said it during his 1987 interview with Oprah. Or maybe that was Woody Allen.
I’m too lazy to Google at the moment and find out who it really was, so…
While it’s a noble truth and certainly something to bear in mind when maneuvering about the world, it’s also unlikely to be adhered to by most creative people. Whether or not we want it to be, the impulse to create something is often driven by the underlying desire to show it to the world, to let it stand before us and represent our greater being. Pretentious? Maybe. But that’s how it is. And if we’re trying to sell the product, then we feel as if the stakes are even higher. In both senses, most of We Who Create are doing so to please others.
I don’t know how it goes for anyone else, but I’m slowly learning to get around it.
And when I say “slowly”, I’m talking continental drift. Evolution.
Department of Motor Vehicles.
I have always admired the Creatives who can create simply for the purpose of doing so. And honestly, the majority of my creative stuff begins because I want to see this *thing* in my head exist in the world. I love the challenge and the feeling of accomplishment, and I’m kind of consumed by the energy cycle that accompanies it all. I think that’s the definition of passion: productive energy applied to the creative impulse, in whatever arena makes sense to the creator. And it should stand on its own as a pinnacle experience; if the need exists to create something, then I should create it and move on to the next thing.
I make it about halfway through before I start fooling myself into believing that the universe has never seen the likes of what I have in store.
I’m writing stories, for crying out loud. I’m not cloning hamsters or re-inventing spray cheese.
I tend to forget that.
That feeling has a way of sticking around through the rest of the project and driving me to finish. It becomes less about simple completion and more about me triumphantly crying out, “Wait’ll you people get a load of THIS!” God forbid anyone be less than thunderstruck by what I’ve created. Because I know how much I’ve put into it, how hard I’ve worked on it, how long it’s taken me to develop a skill that allows me to even start something like what I’ve created, let alone complete it and be happy myself with the finished product.
The last part of that sentence should really be enough for me.
There’s no possible way that what I create is going to have equal impact on everyone who comes into contact with it. The goal should be knowing that it’s now a part of the physical world, there for whomever chooses to take pleasure in it. One person, or a dozen. Or none, really.
That’s going to have to start being enough.
I’m hoping to have a relatively lengthy and varied career as an author. Undoubtedly, there will be those who are displeased with what I write (there already are, in fact) and among them, those vocal enough to tell anyone who’ll listen that what I’ve created isn’t worth their attention. In actuality, it probably won’t be.
It couldn’t possibly appeal to everyone.
Thankfully, nothing ever does.
And if there happen to be those who are kind enough to even consider giving my creations a chance to move them or entertain them or pull them out of their worlds and into mine for even a minute, then I owe them my gratitude for trying it – even if it turns out to not be their thing. Even if it disappoints them in some way—or entirely, maybe–because their tastes or their sensibilities led them to expect something not quite this.
That has to be okay at some point.
Because the best I can do is to make sure that this is absolutely what I’ve intended to create, and that I’ve created it in the truest possible manner without compromising my own creative impulse in favor of my need to please others.
It equates to me adopting an entirely different definition of the word “success”.
I think I’m ready for it.
(I had a smartass closing line written here that said something to the effect of, “I really hope you like this post,” but I opted to delete it. I’m happy with my decision.)