As a mother I have watched each of my children learn to create. They play with play do and color amazing works of art and then comes the sad day when they start to notice art created by siblings, friends and parents and everything changes. They stop believing me when I tell them that what they have made is amazing. They get frustrated with themselves and crumple up their drawing after seeing something they assume to be better.
I have reflected many times to my own youth. As a child I loved to draw. My parents always encouraged me, they even signed me up for a drawing class. I loved that class and at its conclusion I had a finished drawing of a tiger in charcoal. My parents were very proud of that drawing. Then came the day in middle school when a girl sitting next to me showed me a drawing she was working on. I don’t remember anything about her picture but my thoughts I remember with clarity.
I can’t draw. My parents were just being nice, because I’m their daughter, but I have no real talent.
I’m sad to say that I gave up drawing after that. Now when I look back I see the folly in my thinking. But even worse I watch my own children come to similar conclusions. Nothing I say seems to convince them otherwise. One day I was holding my sons bearded dragons with my daughter. She commented on how beautiful they were and I agreed with her. Then a thought entered my mind and I knew I had an opportunity.
I explained to her that many people detest lizards and don’t see them as beautiful. I then explained that God is the best creator. Yet not everyone appreciates all that he has created. He knew that some people would see beauty in some things and not in others. We are all different and knowing this he created a very diverse world so that all could enjoy it and find beauty in his creations. I then explained to her that if someone doesn’t like her art don’t get discouraged. There will always be someone that appreciates it. She just needs to keep working and improving.
As I’ve gotten older I’ve discovered that I’m my own worst critic. I have learned to handle criticism from others but still struggle with outing the critic in myself. My own doubt cripples me. It is my own voice that tells me that what I’m doing doesn’t matter and that no one would appreciate it. It’s an ongoing battle. Time is precious in my busy lifestyle and I tell myself that writing takes too much of that time and I’m really not that good anyway. So I put it aside for what I deem to be more important tasks. Then something inside pulls me back. I love to write. It fulfills a certain part of me. The battle is constant, but I’m beating the critic within, because my unique ability is worth sharing, even if it doesn’t compare in context or quality to someone else’s. There are people out there that will appreciate my work for what it is. A unique work of art. And art is meant to be shared.
Writing is the pondering of the soul. Every soul is beautiful in its unique abilities and talents. I think writing is one way the soul yearns to express itself. There are so many different kinds of writers. My mom can write expressions of love that are beautiful. Mine always come out tacky and boring. My sister can write the things that she feels. I always struggle putting feelings into words. My son can write poems that combine words and images in a way that make you think long after you’ve finished reading it.
Then theirs me. I like to write stories. Most of the time they are heart wrenching stories of struggle. I love to write stories were their are heroes. Heroes over their own lives and circumstances. This brings great joy to me. It is the way my soul has learned to express itself.
I continue to be amazed at the talents God has given each of us. The women that drew the art for my book cover did an amazing job. It was such a miracle to me that I could describe an image in my mind and she could make it appear for all to see. Amazing. I am so grateful for the different talents we each have. It makes me smile. I love to see the art my son can draw, the dance moves one of my other sons creates. The poems that dance around in another sons head. The different views of the world that each of my children have. I am grateful to be alive to experience it all.
I have a weakness. When I see talents and gifts in others that are similar to my own I tend to value mine less. For example, when I was young my mother said I had a talent for drawing. She even signed me up for a drawing class. I loved it! Then one day in middle school I saw a girl drawing and immediatly recognized that her skills surpassed my own. I then concluded that I had been lied to and didn’t actually have a talent in drawing after all. The sad part to that story is I stopped drawing. Now 25 years later I truly have lost the talent.
Sadly I still struggle with this. The more people I meet that are writers the more I assume I’m not very good or think that I should quit because I wouldn’t be able to compete anyway.
Well I learned something this weekend. It doesn’t matter how many people share my talents or how many are better at it then me. What matters is I do my best to improve the talent given to me and share it with as many as are interested. Whether that is 0 or a thousand.
Most people in the world have legs and most people can walk. But I don’t value my legs less because so many people have the same ability. Rather I am grateful that I have that ability and strive to use them and keep them strong.
I plan on looking at things a little differently from here on out. I will celebrate the fact that so many are able to share their souls in writing. Go Writers!!