The Artist and Humility

Present word count of WIP:  54,620

Be prepared for the above word count to remain fairly static for the rest of this week. Why? Because I’m en route to a writers conference–the 2012 LDStorymakers Writer’s Conference to be precise–and if there’s one thing that I have difficulty doing while at such a conference, it’s writing.

Oh, I’ll take plenty of notes…and even perhaps work on my pitch, but my WIP? Realistically, probably not (even though I have it with me). You see, it’s such a rare treat for writers to come out of their caves and gather together, that there’s a whole lot of talking about writing and celebrating about writing, but not much writing.

That’s what a retreat is for. (Hint, hint, Liz.)

Anyway, I decided to make it easy on myself this year and split the 10-hour drive down to Utah in half. So, I only had to drive as far as Boise today.

I was prepared for a mostly silent drive because usually NPR devolves into static about an hour outside the Tri-Cities (and I always forget to set the CDs I like to listen to within arms reach). For some reason today, however, I was able to keep listening long past Pendleton.

Long enough to hear a fascinating interview with Wayne Wright. I’d never heard of him before, but he was the artistic genius behind all the puppets, etc. in that 80’s TV show, Pee-Wee’s Playhouse (which I’d heard of but never watched). Anyway, someone has made a documentary about him entitled, “Beauty is Embarrassing.”

At the end of the interview, he was asked to explain the idea behind the title. He spoke about how people can be so overcome by beauty, whether in nature (created by God, if you will) or in works created by man, that they are moved to tears and that’s embarrassing. He said it’s humbling or embarrassing to be made to feel that vulnerable. I loved that idea, because it’s so true.

Then another thought occurred to me, as I was reflecting on how this manifested itself in great writing. That’s how I feel, too, when I create something–a phrase, a sentence, or perhaps a paragraph–and someone in my critique group (or, if it occurred in a talk or a poem or a song or book I’ve written, one of my listeners or readers) compliments me about it. I’m embarrassed.

How do you say “Thank you” when you feel like it was a gift from the true Creator?

So, yes, beauty is embarrassing.

Originally posted 2012-05-01 21:01:01.

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3 thoughts on “The Artist and Humility

  1. Boy, does that hit the nail on the head!!! I truly suffer from this condition when approached about my work. Just last night someone exclaimed over my coffee filter roses- (in a rather loud voice too), ” SEE, I TOLD YOU. YOU WERE A DESIGNER IN HEAVEN!” I just wanted to run. While I appreciated her “appreciation”, I was embarrassed.
    I somehow think it is related to the intimacy we feel with our work in the creation process. That we go to a place when we are working that is without time or reason and we create from within a urging in our soul. And that when we put it out there, we do feel that great transparency.
    I shall ponder this today while I am working. Great thoughts, Tanya.
    Have a great conference.
    Oh and I am NOT working on coffee filter flowers today….

  2. What a lovely thought–and I am a crier, easily moved (or maybe just highly appreciative . . . ) so I’m embarrassed by tears more often than I would like. This helps me put that in perspective some. Vulnerability shouldn’t have to be embarrassing.

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