Yesterday I went back to see if any more of my photos had sold at the Lake Oswego Festival of the Arts, and none had. Funny how you can be so excited about something – “YIPPEE! TWO OF MY PHOTOGRAPHS HAVE SOLD!!!! – and so quickly go to – “only two of my photographs have sold.”
My expectation the first day was that none of them might sale, and how awful that would be. But at the end of the first day, I was so excited that I’d made two sales because it validated me as a photographer and artist. I got the stamp of approval from the world.
By the end of the second day, however, the world had said to me, “You got lucky with those two, but we’re wise to you now and you won’t get away with fooling us into thinking that you’ve got talent.”
Not that the world is actually saying this (maybe they are. If you hear something, let me know), but the little whining, insecure voice in my head is saying, “Why did you ever think you could be a photographer? How humiliating to have your stuff hanging in a festival with real artwork for the entire world to see and not have any little orange dots on your card except for a measly two.”
This voice hounds me day in and day out. It’s a wonder I can ever get anything done, because it questions everything I do.
“Why are you still using that frayed toothbrush? It’s embarrassing.”
“It works fine, and who’s going to see it?”
“I see it. It might work fine, but it’s an eyesore and you know you’re supposed to replace those things every few months.”
“I just got it about six weeks ago. Can I help it if the toothbrush companies make them so they get frayed really quick?”
“Oh, so now you’re going to blame it on the toothbrush companies?”
This conversation banters back and forth until I leave the bathroom, at which time the voice starts in about something else: “Why don’t you clean out this closet?”
The reason I actually accomplish anything is that another voice tells me how great I am. This one says, “Why are you only entering nine of your photographs? How can you pick just nine when they are all so beautiful?”
These guys are in there arguing like an umpire and a baseball coach, in each other’s faces, spit flying: “If you’d clean out this closet, you could find something to wear.”
“There’s plenty to wear, in fact, there are so many cute things in here it’s impossible to choose between them.”
“Cute? Cute? Did you say cute? Look at this shirt? When’s the last time anyone wore this thing? It’s got a stain on the front.”
“That stain is microscopic. Nobody without x-ray vision could see that stain.”
“So how come you never wear it?”
When I move to the kitchen, they start on something new: “Are you going to put that much butter on your toast? I thought you were trying to lose weight.”
I don’t know if other people have to contend with this, but to me it’s like having two kids in the back seat bickering:
“She hit me!”
“He hit me first.”
“That’s because she was looking at me.”
Georgia O’Keeffe, the artist who does those paintings of one part of a flower magnified to sometimes look like a vagina, once said, “I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life – and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.” She also said: “I hate flowers – I paint them because they’re cheaper than models and they don’t move.” This makes her sound kind of crotchety.
The point is that she must have had those two voices in her head all the time, too, and I know exactly what she means when she says she’s terrified every moment. I’m just like her, except not rich and famous. I’m afraid of my own shadow, which is the reason I live in Oregon where the sun rarely shines (that’s a joke, ha ha – get it? I don’t see my shadow to be afraid of it here in Oregon because….oh forget it.)
If you are still with me on this long, rambling journey through the workings of my brain, you are probably wondering how we got so far away from the topic about my photographs. You and me both. But I will bring this full circle by saying that I promised in my last post to make my next one twice as long, and I think I’ve succeeded, so I can end this now. Aren’t I clever?