chasing fear and finding genius


I woke up today thinking of this talk by Elizabeth Gilbert I had seen on TED close to a year ago. Gilbert is the author of the much hyped, instant success "Eat, Pray, Love." I still haven't read the book, and despite the mixed reactions to it by my friends, based in this talk I'll probably pick it up one day. In the meantime, I really appreciate what she talks about here. Check out this link.

I don't know a single artist who hasn't experienced some form of the fear and dread Gilbert touches on in this talk, whether it's self-inflicted or projected onto them. "What is it about creative ventures that seems to make us really nervous about each other's mental health, in a way that other careers...don't do?" she asks. "Why? Is it rational, is it logical, that anybody should be expected to be afraid to do the work that they feel they were put on this earth to do?"

I get a sense that as artists we are expected to either exhibit superhuman resistance to the pressure to "live up" to our previous work, or that we are so delicate and fragile that we will certainly shatter under the presumed pressure. Like Gilbert, I often find myself asking why is this onus especially heavy on artists? However, thinking about fear and uncertainty as a nearly universal condition of being an artist puts my own fear and uncertainty into context, and helps me feel a little better able to sit down to do the work every day, knowing that I've got good company.