The Creative Epiphany – Doubting It

“The greater the artist, the greater the doubt; perfect confidence is granted to the less talented as a consolation prize,” said Robert Hughes.

This quote is a favorite of mine; I believe it is applicable to any creative endeavor and any person who doubts the outcome of a creative effort. Some people, some very prominent and historically important people unfortunately spent their entire lives in doubt that anything they accomplished creatively would ever make a difference or that it would be seen by others as worthy of a second glance. Van Gogh, for instance, never sold a painting in his life. But he continued to paint his heart out. He had to – there could be no other release for his passion and his gift.

We who feel passionate about creating continue to create, chugging along, moving forward sometimes in spite of fumes of continuing doubt about the worthiness of our creations, while others who might be far less talented manage to achieve notoriety and recognition by sheer force of aggressive confidence, perseverance and a full tank of confidence based upon ego. They feel entitled and they are pushy. They know people and they have connections and they get things done. We have all known musicians or artists, writers or actors or businessmen and others who seem to have far more success than their lukewarm talent warrants. Actors write their biographies (some while still in their twenties!) and appear on dozens of talk shows plugging their books, riding along on a wave of false fame born not really of Oscar winning performances but of controversy, bad behavior or who their parents happened to be.

Thus are the ways of the world. For every successful person there are dozens of other folks with equal or greater talent who did not know quite how to make the success happen; they doubted themselves too much or found it too difficult to market  themselves to the right people, and the circumstances, timing and pure luck were never in place for the “miracle” of being discovered to take place. Certainly not every gallery artist is an extraordinary talent – but that lesser talent knew how to make things happen. The attitude and confidence of a “knower” can trump doubt and insecurity in a “doubter” even when the doubter has the greater gift.

PS – Oh yes – one more thing – once in a while a person of spectacular talent, who is both confident and in possession of a healthy ego while still managing to remain humble, realizes that he has been blessed to have been given a rare and priceless creative gift, and then the sky is the limit. The world will notice.

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