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An Open Letter to the Cautious Creative

I see you. I may not have seen your work, but I see you. You’re hiding in that dark corner where the shadows of the people you admire converge. I have been acquainted with that corner. It’s where dreams are born. It’s also where dreams are crushed. Stifling your own soul is a cruel thing to do to yourself. Please, come out. Come out from there and stand with me. The spotlight may not be on us, but at least we’re still on the stage. Everyone starts somewhere. Today, we’re tree #7 and #8. Tomorrow, we’ll be cat #3 and #4. Maybe next month we’ll get to play people. Don’t rush it. Enjoy it.

Believe me, I understand. You’re afraid that you’re not good enough to take up time and space. The thing is, the world is a big and scary place. So is the internet. If your work isn’t in that space, it would be occupied by somebody else’s, and it could be just as bad as you think yours is. But really, it doesn’t matter as long as it’s out there. Our existence as people has always taken up time and space. There is no shame in being a little greedy.

Perhaps you’re afraid of criticism. Look at everyone you admire. They’ve all been there. For some, it never gets less painful to see. They just get too busy to notice. By closing yourself off from criticism, you’re also closing yourself off from support and love. There are going to be a lot of people rooting for you. Don’t shut them out.

No, you say, it’s because you’re afraid of hurting or offending someone. People get hurt and offended all the time. You won’t be the first and you most certainly won’t be the last. It it happens and you never intended it to come off that way, then just apologise. Learn from it. It’s okay to make mistakes.

Listen, there are a lot of terrible things in the world. That’s why art is so popular — people want to be distracted. So, distract them. You have that power as a creative person. Use it. There is nothing wrong in wanting to bring some light into this fading world. There are many times where I feel like the world is so terrible that I can’t possibly survive it all. In these moments of weakness, I turn to art. I turn to people like Ruta Sepetys, Bisco Hatori, Tom Rob Smith, Sarah Kay, Phil Kaye, Katsura Hoshino, Sierra Demulder, Surfacage, Hiromu Arakawa, Markus Zusak, and I think that maybe this world isn’t so bad after all. How can it be when there are people actively creating beauty every day? It has to at least be a decent place to inhabit.

You could be that person to someone else. You already have the capacity and desire to do so. But if you don’t put your work out there, it’s never going to reach them.

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