So much of art is bravery. Simply being more scared to harbor thoughts in your head, forever, than you are to expose them to the world and all its viciousness.
The artist would rather watch her thoughts, her words, her feelings, her colors, ripped to shreds, eviscerated by a cruel and angry crowd (with the faintest, most dim, barely breathing hope that one soul — just one — will love or at least tolerate her work) than have to live one more day, one more hour, one more minute, one more heartbeat, with these thoughts, these creations in her head.
Some say characters are not alive if they only live in your head. Bullshit. The characters are most deadly when they only live in your head. Most treacherous when they only roam in your brain. When you free them from between your ears, you literally save yourself. (Yes, I meant literally — and, believe me, it works.)
Because you are a lawyer or a teacher or an accountant or a roofer? Or any one of the myriad of performers that we need to keep this world going? Why do you think that you are entitled to play it safe? To risk very little? To stay covered up, sheathed, and protected from this cruel world like some shrinkwrapped plastic toy, or a dark medieval castle with the highest of granite walls and a deep, greenish moat all around?
You don’t. You can’t. Not if you’re any good. You simply must come out and play.
See, if you have a soul that is not content with mediocrity, not content with good enough, not satisfied with bullshit, then you hear the siren song in almost everything you do. You chase excellence. You have to. Sometimes, you catch it — or at least a whiff of it, a hint of it, enough of a scent to make you whip your head around on a busy city street full of gasoline fumes and hot pavement because you caught that faint sweet smell of excellence, like the perfume hint left behind by a tall, beautiful woman you may never see again.
But still you chase excellence, and you do see her again. If you work hard and you are driven — no, compelled — to do that which you should be doing and to accept nothing but the best from yourself, you will create something excellent again. Have faith.
Excellence is not a one-time shot — although it can feel that way, at times, like a great stroke off the tee, the drive straight and true flying over the glistening grass.
You will hit like that again. You will write like that again. You will think like that again. You will lift like that again. You will love like that again.
The only limiting factor is you. It’s always been the only limiting factor, but your vision hasn’t always been clear enough to see that.
But first you need to have the stones to do it. You have to have the guts to throw your heart on the line, to throw your shit down and say, “Yeah, that’s the best I’ve got. Have at it.”
Once you do that, you are on your way.