Last week Thursday after the kids were put to bed and my husband and I sat chatting at the dining room table, I was reduced to a blubbering mess, crying big heavy hot tears.
You’re wondering why. Of course you are.
Well, I had a deadline that night. At midnight I had to submit the first 250 words of the manuscript for my first-ever children’s picture book for my first-ever children’s picture book writing class.
Ok…you say. But why in the heck were you crying?! Didn’t you want to take the class? Didn’t you sign up for it and pay for it and all that jazz?
Yes to all of that. Yes, I decided to take the class. Yes, I registered. Yes, I paid the tuition. Yes yes yes. Even still, showing my work, my messy unpolished amateur work, to a group of virtual strangers is a vulnerable scary business.
I did it, eventually. And I’m glad I did. I got some valuable feedback. But after submitting my work in that way, to that audience, I started thinking about the things we choose to share and the things we choose to keep private. In this very social era, I think we’ve come to believe that everything that is good and worthwhile must be shared. Our breakfast. Our coffee. Our projects. Our work. Everything.
But, truth is, everything doesn’t need to be shared.
If the idea of sharing a poem you’ve written with the internet or your spouse or anyone reduces you to a blubbering hot mess, don’t.
If the thought of showing someone one of your paintings is too much to even handle, don’t do it.
You can do work. You can write words. You can paint pictures. You can sew. You can sing. You can dance. And you can choose to keep it all private. You can choose to do it all just for you.
Keeping your work private doesn’t make you any less of a painter, writer, dancer, singer, creative, artist. It just means your intentions are different. You’re not working for the approval or feedback of anyone else. You’re working for you.
And sometimes that work is the most important of all.