Can't Love, Can't Hurt

I think everything good hurts. You can color me cynical if you want — I'd be an intense cynical, by the way, like a navy cynical or a fire engine cynical — but I really don't think we ever get anything good out of life without bleeding a little along the way. Those last three words being incredibly key to what I'm about to say. Opening ourselves up to love opens us up to heartbreak. If you write the story that's inside of you, it could mean that no one will ever want to read it, outside of you. So we condition ourselves, slowly, methodically, that if we just keep it within ourselves — our love, our art — no one can ever touch it and we won't have to feel that vulnerability. That pain. That absolutely human quality.

I'm always scared to tell people about new projects I'm writing. If it's still new for me, and I explain it to someone who just doesn't get it, it's ruined. I could have been working on it for months, but everything unravels in that moment when their lips say "Sounds great!" and their eyes say anything but.

It's not their fault though. They don't mean to hurt me, even if they do. So I just resolve to show them next time. Next time, I won't tell them about the project. Not until it's done. Next time, I won't give it to them until it's perfect. Then I can hand it to them, complete, and say "Ha! I told you so. I knew I'd get it all put together if you just gave me enough time."

Next time.

So I wait until it's done. Until it's perfect. Until it's worth showing someone else. Or could it be until others are worth showing it to? Could it be that I don't think other people would understand a work in progress? A creative mess? Me?

I've got a secret though. I haven't written a single worthwhile story that I didn't run by someone first. I have friends that will tell me when something sucks. Or at least when they don't get it. And it hurts. Every time, without a doubt, I want to kick them or run away or tell my mom that someone was mean.

But after the urge to punch and run, something dawns on me. If nobody had told me I was doing it wrong, I would've kept doing it wrong. If I hadn't given anyone a chance to help me along, I wouldn't have had a chance to fix it. It's a lot easier to rewrite a page than it is to rewrite a chapter, and a whole lot easier to change the way I think about something before I've already made up my mind about how it should be.

If you know me at all, you know how much I believe that love and art are intrinsically connected. I can't help but think this doesn't apply to just my work.