On Art And Vulnerability

(As an artist trying to create emotion can you at times be too vulnerable?)

Whenever I visit my mom her new three concerns are:

  •  Did you eat?
  •  Your shirts are getting too tight.
  •  I think your writing is too vulnerable.

Which made me think, is my writing too vulnerable? As a writer can you be too vulnerable? My mother is an artist in many ways (hi mom) but not necessarily a writer. At some point in my teens I had the earth shattering epiphany that my parents weren’t necessarily right about everything on the planet. Can this be? The figures we looked up to for the first 18 years of our life are fallible? Now that we are older we know of course they are, how could they not be? So is this case with writing? Can a writer be too vulnerable?

Foodlatio.com is actually my third blog. The second blog I wrote (now private) chronicled an 87-day trip I took across Europe and Africa. I had grand dreams that it would be an Eat Pray Love overnight smash success that would launch my writing career but turns out it only caused a minor blip among Facebook friends. What I learned from that endeavor though was the two most popular entries were the ones where I was revealed the most about myself as a person. Profound things that even some of my closest friends didn’t know about me. Why? Because vulnerability makes people feel emotionally closer to you. We are so guarded on a day-to-day basis that the fact that you let your readers in on pieces of you makes them feel closer to you. With roughly seven billion people in the world your struggles are not unique and many of them will also identify with what you are going through. It’s good for people to know that there are other people out there that are going through the same thing. May it be your parents going through a divorce, you hating your job, or you doubting the relevancy of your art there are other people in the world doing the exact same thing.

In the case of my personal life and people using this “vulnerability” against me, sure it could absoutely happen. All the future people I meet could Google stalk me (which these days should just be called “Google due diligence”) and learn a great deal about me. They could (and have) read my work and then questioned me about or perhaps even used it against me. As a writer though I accept that and put myself out there time and time again. If they do use it against me then I will know that’s someone I don’t want in my life.

I’m an artist. I create. And the fact that I am able to feel and channel the spectrum of emotions and put them on paper makes me a good writer. As an artist, what you want to do is create an emotional response from your audience. If you can feel things then you can make other people feel things. Don’t hold back. Whenever you read my work I want you to feel like you want to either punch me or kiss me after. If the vulnerability in my writing makes you feel an emotion then I consider it a success.

[Photo: A cafe and postcards in Paris, France]

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