Yesterday a woman I’ve only met once, possibly twice told me that I’d blown her mind. It really struck me because I spend so much time walking around inside my own head, thinking about the people who are important to me, thinking about how they impact my journey, about how I want to be more like them, to emulate some virtue or trait of theirs that I envy that I forget that there are people out there who I have touched.
I am humbled by her admission but I also feel like it’s a total ego boost. I have spent quite a lot of time recently thinking about whether I have the right to call myself an artist or a writer. Do I really have that much to say that I should expect other people to be interested in reading/seeing it? My modesty says no but there are a lot of people out there who advocate that if you don’t believe you have anything worthwhile to say you never will.
A friend of mine was telling me about an author, possibly Ray Bradbury, who told himself everyday for years that he was a genius until he was. He spent every day working on his craft, writing stuff whether it was brilliant or not, whether he wanted to or not, and telling himself that he was going to create something truly magical. If the universe works on intentions and gives back what you send out then I should definitely start telling myself that I’m a genius.
The biggest hurdle for me is that it raises the question of where is the line between self-belief and self-confidence and delusion? If I cover my walls in encouraging post-its telling me how amazing I am, how beautiful my art is, how insightful my writing is, is that just masturbation?
This comic, by Grant Snider, is an interesting appraisal of what it takes to be a great novelist. I believe that I’m currently between ‘Episodes of Debauchery’ and ‘Pathologic Ambition’ – it’s the ‘I must write/create’ imperative that I need to get happening. That constant pressure that lives sort of behind your eyes that makes you sacrifice chatting with friends to finish a chapter of a book that may never be read by anyone. That dull ache that makes you lug a camera and tripod to the movies just in case you can get one cool shot of a skyline. I want to believe that I am a creative goddess and if other people agree with me then that’s a cheeky bonus.
So the idea that I have left a lasting impression on someone is something I will have to come to terms with. Just as people I have met, read, seen or stalked on the internet have a lasting effect on me through their own fabulous genius or by triggering some chain reaction that leads me to the work of some other genius I have an effect on people to come across my art or myself. Perhaps it will be helpful for me to remember that every genius is also just a person who eats, sleeps, shits, loves, grieves, doubts, cries and laughs just like I do.
It’s time to allow myself to be a genius and to accept that I will change people’s lives whether I know about it or not, whether I intend to or not. Hopefully the more I intend to change people’s lives the more comfortable I will be with doing it.