Saturday, October 16, 2010

How to Deal with Cold Noses and Wet Blankets (Part II)

Then there are the other ones, the Wet Blankets and the Cold Noses. We've all run into them, the naysayers of gloom and doom. Cold Noses are worse---they stick  those noses into your creative life and try their best to freeze your enthusiasm. It's harder to ignore a Cold Nose than a Wet Blanket. You could always disregard a Wet Blanket's Pessimism, or at the very least, toss them in the Dryer for a few cycles. A Cold Nose is like getting your tongue stuck frozen on a flagpole. You can get it unstuck, but it's pretty damn painful.

I ran into a Cold Nose/Wet Blanket combo just earlier today. It's not unusual to find one with the other, one following the other, or both in one delightful package. This one was the specialty package.

"What're you doing on your computer?"

"Just doing some editing." (I had a picture editing site up, processing digital pics of my recent art).

"Really? Wow. You know, those colors look too bright. Maybe if you move the slider a bit that way."

(pause). "They're supposed to be that bright."

"No, trust me, that doesn't look natural at all. Maybe if you crop it from, it'd look kinda lopsided. This doesn't look like a real person. Looks more...'organic'."

"You make 'organic' sound like a bad thing."

(Cold Nose/Wet Blanket backpedals) "Oh, no, it really isn't. I know some kinds of art isn't supposed to be like Da Vinci or Michaelangelo."

"Or a technical drawing."

"I'd be lousy at technical drawings. They wouldn't get done because I'd be obsessed with getting it exactly right."

"But this isn't a technical drawing, and this is my style."

"Oh, I know that, but still..."

Yes, this was an actual conversation. Cold Noses don't care about your boundaries; your business becomes theirs and they have all sorts of "helpful" advice to impart to  you. First and foremost, learn the magic of containment. Julia Cameron talks about this in her "Artist's Way" series, and her advice can save your sanity. Don't share your artistic work indiscriminately. Find supportive people that will offer constructive criticism while nurturing your talents. It sounds difficult, but your personal cadre of cheerleaders can make the difference.

Wet Blankets try to dampen your enthusiasm. They point out how difficult it is to make a living in the arts. Artists are crazy, broke and/or drunkards. Can't you find a steady, reliable job that brings in a predictable income? Get your head out of the clouds and back to reality. Their negativity is enough for you to tear up your manuscript, burn your canvases, and find a pub somewhere.

We're hypersensitive to criticism like this. We must learn to have selective hearing and thick skins. A writer friend of mine puts it this way, "Those who can, do. Those who can't, tear down the ones who do. Don't let 'em." Sound advice. Ignore such gloom and doom (easier said than done), and/or get away from the Wet Blanket. Some people decide to throw the Wet Blanket in the dryer for a couple of cycles. Others gently hang them out to dry on a clothesline. 

Still others fold the Wet Blankets and store them in their linen closet. The problem with that is that eventually, all your towels get soaked as well, and that leads to all sorts of moldy problems. It takes courage to throw out the ruined stuff and restock with pretty sheets and fluffy towels.

It also takes courage to find the Warm Fuzzies and Itchy Toes. They're out there. If they're not local, then find some writers/artists/sculptors/jewelry makers/scrapbookers/designers/whatever your specialty on-line. Support is crucial to finding your bliss and nurturing it against the Cold Noses and Wet Blankets. 

Go on and be daring!

All original writing and art copyright A. Dameron 2000-2010

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