As a small girl (yes, about that small,) I remember being in Kindergarten. I liked to draw. In fact, I was pretty good at it. (No pride here.) One day my teacher asked us to create a self portrait, then proceeded to demonstrate how wemightdraw ourselves on the board. Fundamentally, I agreed with her…until she got to the feet. “This is how I make shoes,” she told us, adding ovals for feet. All excitement deflated. I had a great way for drawing feet. I’d done it a hundred times, but suddenly I couldn’t remember how. No matter how I thought, my brain only spouted back the demonstration. Frustrated, I finished the picture, but those feet bother me to this day. All through school, it agitated me when people said they could draw, and thencopiedsomeone else’s work. It wasn’t art in my mind unless it was original. (And what kid doesn’t have a million original ideas an hour?)
As artists, (and people,) I feel there are too many “noises”. Too many influences. These range from TV, books, music, and web, to authorities or “professionals” (don’t get me started on this one). We each have our sensitivities, the chink in our armor, weaknesses where we take anyone’s word or advice over our own.
On the subject of outside voices, Jane Green, a NY Times best selling author advises: "Writing is entirely subjective, and as tempting as it may be to give your book to your six best friends, your parents, your siblings, your Great Aunt Sadie, for validation as to how talented you are and to hear how much they love it, too many cooks will spoil your broth, and you will end up with so many opinions, your head will be spinning."
Opinions are just that: a belief or judgment that rests on grounds insufficient to produce complete confidence. Some are good. Some are validated. Some are ridiculously biased and off kilter.
A warning to the wise on being influenced: Voices, there a hundred thousand voices out there. After reading a good book, I find myself gravitating toward the writers “voice”. Even mimicking them. (Writing is my weakness.) Occasionally I want to borrow a sitcom character--because they were so well written! Thanks to an audio sensitivity, I can’t listen to music while writing. Understand, I write music. It’s constantly playing in my head, therefore: change the soundtrack=change my world.
But it’s not enough to simply silence these "noises".
In the later years, I created a “sphere of influence”. When needing to complete a project (art or writing), I’d surround myself with all the pieces or peripherals I wished to include—literally a circle, and I’d sit on the floor in the center. From multiple vantages I’d create a unique piece, entirely my own, entirely my style, but with the helps I’d gathered, the intentional ones.
We need to be individuals. We need to turn off the noises and surround ourselves with those things that matter most. Be courageous enough to tell your Kindergarten teacher she drew the shoes wrong! Be brave enough to forge your own way rather than copying what’s already being/been done. Be confident enough to throw away the letter where one agent insists you rewrite your entire best-selling story. (True story from Jane Green.) Be you.
What noises do you deal with? How do you manage them?