Have you ever hesitated to create something because you were afraid of what someone might think? Our art suffers when we care about the approval of others.
“The eyes of others our prisons; their thoughts our cages.”
― Virginia Woolf
For the past five years, I have been working on a book.
Two years to learn graphic design.
When a graphic designer gave me a quote for $1,200 to format the interior of the book and make the cover, I went back to school. It took me two years to take three classes: computer graphics, typography, and page layout and design, one class a semester. And one semester I had to skip because the class I needed was the same time as my daughter’s play practice.
One year to decide which editor’s version I liked.
I hired an editor to look at my manuscript. She completely restructured the book, so it sounded like a persuasive essay and less like a manifesto. It took me a year to decide which version I liked better. I went with the first version.
One year to decide if I should illustrate the book.
People gave me different advice, “Don’t add illustrations, let the reader use their imagination.” “Illustrate the book. It needs illustrations.” I didn’t illustrate the book.
One year to work on my concept of self.
At the beginning of last September, the book was finished, the inside was formatted, the cover was done, I had blurbs and a foreword. There were no illustrations, the cover design was formatted to look like similar books in that genre. There was only one step left. Hit the yellow approve button, and it would be published and available for sale.
I didn’t hit approve. I didn’t publish the book. I felt like I was running a marathon, and right before the finish line, I laid across the track and stopped. I didn’t know why I didn’t publish the book..
Then I heard Dan Miller speak at the 2017 Tribe Conference in Franklin, Tennessee. “If you’ve got a book that you have been working on for five years and haven’t finished it, it probably says more about your self-worth than it does your literary skills.”
At the end of the conference during the Master Mind seasons, tables of six to seven people take turns asking for help with something they are working on. You state your problem, the other people ask clarifying questions, then you re-state your problem, and then they offer solutions. This is done in about six minutes a person. Everyone gets a turn.
I went first.
“I don’t understand why I am hesitating to finish my book.”
They asked me questions.
“What is the book about?” “What do you think about the book.” “What is the title?” “Why are you hesitating.”
“I love the book. It is about believing you are an artist. It is called “The Artist’s Manifesto: fight resistance and create. Steven Pressfield wrote the foreword for the book. There is nothing wrong with the book.”
And then I started to cry.
Dan Miller was right. It wasn’t the book. It was me.
What I did to finish the book
I wasn’t ready to publish a book that tells you to stop listening to the negative voices of the past and believe in yourself when I couldn’t do it myself. I went to therapy and worked on my concept of self-worth.
I listened to episode 155 of The Portfolio Life podcast by Jeff Goins when he interviewed Shrinivas Rao. Then I bought the book, Unmistakable: Why Only is Better Than Best and read it.
“When you’re the only person who could have created a work of art, the competition and standard metrics by which things are measured become irrelevant because nothing can replace you. The factors that distinguish you are so personal than nobody can replicate them.”
I re-read The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
“Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.”
The graphic design for The Artist’s Manifesto: Fight Resistance and Create that was sitting on Createspace waiting to be published was a safe book.
I didn’t illustrate the book because I didn’t want anyone to say, “Well, your teacher was right. You really can’t draw.” I did not take any risks with the design.
The book is finished
I had a choice to make.
Do it or don’t do it.
— Steven Pressfield, The War of Art
I chose to do it. Unmistakably me.
I reopened the file and added illustrations, hand drew the chapter numbers and added a photograph of my cat. My heart and soul is in the book. Living the unlived life on other side of resistance. Leaving my heart on the stage.
The book will be published on October 25th, 2018
What will you do?
You have a choice to make. A choice that presents itself every morning. Will you fight resistance and create?
Please let me know, I would love to hear from you.