maybe it is about the destination

‘It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey’.

I can’t say straight away that this is completely wrong. If you consider to only be about your attitude, then maybe it is right.

But for me as an artist, it drives me insane.

Because in many ways, my work is about the destination.

For example, the architect that designed the library at Kenwood House (included in the above picture) didn’t do that work so that we could all look at his plans and ask him how he did it. He did it so that people could enjoy the library; his destination.

By our very nature, artists produce products of some kind. Be it a painting, a piece of music, a story, a poem; we are making a product.

And the product is the part that we are interested in sharing. You, as an artist, want people to engage with your product. The product was the goal to begin with, and although you learnt many valuable lessons on the way, the product is still the end goal that you want to share.

I find as a composer that people often want to understand what it is that I do. They want to understand ‘the magic’ that happens behind my laptop. Hint: it’s not magic, it’s hard work.

Apart from the fact that I find it quite difficult to explain to the non-musician exactly what my writing process is, I also don’t think I want to share it with just anyone.

The journey that got me there is mine. And it’s valuable. And it’s mine.

Artists choose to share incredibly vulnerable parts of themselves. More than most people would. But the point is that we choose what parts we share.

You chose to share that product. That’s what you were out creating in the first place.

So when people prattle on about the journey, two things happen.

1. We feel that we’re being asked to share a vulnerable part of ourselves that we didn’t agree to share.

2. Our product feels devalued. You made that product for your audience to enjoy, and all they want to know is how you got there.

This means that we need to establish two corresponding ground rules.

1. You choose what you share. If people ask you to share the struggle that it was creating your product, you don’t have to say yes unless you’re really happy to.

2. Let your product stand on its own two feet. You do not need to justify how it got there or what work went into it. It’s your art, your work, and you have the final say.

I am not saying that we should stop sharing our creative processes; I’m all about discussing those with one another and sharing parts of the journey that we want to share.

But don’t allow your artistic product to be defined by how it got there. The destination, not the journey, was the aim. And you made it, so share that destination with pride.

Enjoy what I write, or have thoughts to add? Take time to like, comment and share. Collaboration makes us all better creators, so join the conversation and start inspiring others!

This post was originally published March 25th, 2020.

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