getting on my soapbox

Elsewhere, I got on my soapbox about talent and art, and I think it's worth saying again. So I will:

I'm going to get on my soapbox for a bit here:

It's funny -- when I was getting my writing degree, I was told my first million words would be awful. And they were. When I went back to an art studio, I was told my first 10,000 drawings would suck. And they did. (This is why Fod invented fire.)

There's this myth that good art is made without having to work at the craft, and that talent is all you need. But after having gone through an MFA program and years at an atelier, I can confidently tell you that 'talent,' while real, gets you nowhere on its own. You have to be willing to suck; to put your work out there in the real world for feedback; to sit down and learn your craft; and chutzpah sure doesn't hurt.

When I first went back to art school, I despaired utterly of ever catching up to the other students, who had not taken any time off to go get writing degrees or careers. My drawings were… well, best not spoken of; theirs were beautifully rendered and lifelike; they were all much more talented. I was ready to give up, when my teacher brought in his old sketchbooks, so I could see that he also once made the same mistakes I was making. That was a priceless gift, because it gave me hope and the courage to get through the thousands of bad drawings. It didn't stop me from being terrified every time I work on something close to my heart, but it showed me that talent isn't the crucial thing; determination is.

Hell, I'm making myself work on this painting in spite of being so nervous about how it'll go over that I have to go retch before I can pick up the brushes. Any talent I might have is absolutely no help at all; not eating is a lot more useful, honestly.

So go submit your work; make a mess with the acrylics; and don't be afraid to suck.

Alright, I think I'm done with the soapbox now.

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