Show and Tell

Recommended Listening:

Take Me To Church (Live)


If you've been around for more than a minute, you've probably seen me mention I'm not fond of social media. This is particularly in reference to the realm of marketing myself as an artist and general creator. Over time, at each impulse to say so, I've tried to examine deeper why this is the case, particularly because of my beliefs on doing things my own way, but responsibly.

In 2020, social media is obviously necessary to reach out to an audience and present my work. However, I've known for a while there's another layer. It's not just about me being an introvert, or coming across the inevitable troll or three.

On closer look, I found a lot of people who say a lot, but don't do a lot. Which you've probably gathered, yourself. It's not a new idea in relation to the internet. The people I've found most inspiring are the ones who aren't actually posting much.

They put their energy into their work, and share only as needed, whether that's for their marketing or something else.

Talking about what you do has benefits, such as building confidence and commitment, as long as you use it responsibly. Social media puts pressure on creators to always be presenting as much as what they do as possible, and makes it so much easier to talk without putting energy into what you value. This is easy to do with social life, and politically and religiously (as the case may be), but I feel like people don't talk about the lasting affect this has on creativity.

My blogging schedule is built around forcing myself to relate to my thought process in a different way. Over the years, I've had a lot of trouble finishing things and, even when I finish things, I haven't wanted to present it to other people. I've heard people talk about how you have to make things for yourself, and only for yourself. And then people talking about how an artist is never going to be successful if they don't pay attention to people want. There is supposedly no grey area, and then the former mock those who aren't wildly popular, the latter mock those who keep themselves on the edge of burnout because they aren't doing things "correctly" if they're having problems.

If your work is truly your own, you have to find your own balance. You are the only one who can identify what you want out of what you make, and what you're really trying to create. Where is your energy going, and why? Why do you care?

What would you do if no one was paying attention?

How would you react if you had 30 days where you weren't allowed to share your work with anyone? Would you stop creating or would you create something different? Would you continue to do what you do only so you can beat the clock and display it later?

I don't mean a period of focus for a shop update, or redoing your portfolio, or something else. I mean with focus on attention without substance.

Obviously, to do what I want to do with my life, which is full-time creation, I have to keep presenting my work to other people. However, over time, I've experimented with and studied what it appears people want. I've modeled myself after other shops, other creators, and tested out what appears to be successful. And yes, there's merit in studying what you like, deconstructing, and remaking in your own image (without plagiarism), in that identifying what energizes you will teach you how to keep yourself energized. But, when you're only trying to copy someone else's homework, you learn nothing.

There's no recipe for teaching you what really matters to you.

Over years, I beat myself up for not skipping to the good bit. Burning myself out like a firework rather than working with the longevity of candlelight. I have a past full of people telling me not to talk about myself, and to be humble and never think of myself first, no matter what that meant.

You have to create for yourself before you create for the approval of others. And then, when you do create for the approval of others, you can tell if it's approval you should be seeking. Hint: if someone is telling you to light yourself like a firework or they won't tell you that you're pretty, they're not concerned with your longevity and are best ignored.

In reaching out and getting more comfortable with my work, I met people who thought they had good intentions, but told me much more of the same. When I was working hard, I was told to work smarter. When I tried to be more clever and save work, I was told I wasn't working hard enough. Letting that pattern get into my head, I tried to emulate people with different lives and abilities from me, and pushed myself past my limit. Because, that's what Hollywood tells us gets results, isn't it? Push yourself to 110% and only then do you deserve to see results and have a happy ending, never mind if it's scripted.

Blackbird Parlor is the name of my portfolio, and this website in general, but Whiskey Terra Foxtrot is the name of the shop. One is about who comes to me, the other is about what I send out.

Blackbird is the name of a story I wrote in my late teens, involving a man who thought everything was his fault, and hid himself away until he fixed it. He didn't, until he realized his place in his own story. There was also a sentient novel and a couple werewolves, but that's beside the point.

Whiskey Terra Foxtrot has more to do with my Paganism and personal symbolism, particularly the pun overlapping with my love and use of gardening in that realm. However, it also has to do with the irresponsibility I've seen in a lot of Pagans that use social media. Everything that people do for show, with show as the focus rather than the accent.

I like things that look nice. However, as we've established, that's not all there is.

If you're religious (or spiritual, if you prefer the term), what would you do if you couldn't share any of that for the next thirty days? Would you stop doing what you do, or would you do anything differently?

Why, or why not?

I'm not here to demand those answers from you, but I'm here to ask the question I don't see posed all that often, if at all. And, when I do see it, it's most often in the context of adhering to someone else's standards, values, and loopholes. Getting someone else's approval without questioning why.

Their rituals, their symbols, their checklists.

I'm Pagan because I believe in personal responsibility, and being aware of how our actions affect the world around us. There's a common thread of meaning that pierces through all of us before society tells us something different. Culture can sharpen that lens, or it can obscure it. This can be incidental, or can be quite on purpose, so a culture can teach us to feed into something that doesn't benefit anyone but those who've made the rules.

We are taught we must keep up and check in. We must tell others what we're doing, otherwise we don't gain approval for it. And, therefore, we send our energy out into the void, thinking the fraction we get back is good enough, but only as long as we keep working for it.

As long as we have the likes, the follows, and the stories on our feed - and the views - it doesn't matter if we get anything meaningful done. The numbers create the meaning. The numbers mean we're doing it correctly. Apparently.

Of course, I want to present my work. I want to pay bills with what I give you in exchange for money.

I want what I give you to have enough meaning that you keep coming back, and I can continue to present what I've put my energy into, so I can keep asking you questions and you can keep thinking about what you find meaning in. What your actions mean, what your actions do for yourself and the world around you.

I don't get paid for blogging. There may be another arrangement with my YouTube in the future but, in the meantime, I don't get paid for making videos. I do it for me, and I do it for you.

This isn't a post to tell you to get off social media. This is to question what you care about and what's holding you back, despite telling you that it will move you astronomically forward. What's holding that carrot on the stick, and are you willing to punch it in the face and get back to what matters to you?

I hold my media in my hand as a tool, and I have no obligations to the platform. I make contracts, official and otherwise, with the people I connect to. The platform is an object we see each other through, and too many people treat it like a billboard and then wonder why they aren't getting feedback. I've experienced this particularly over the last year, getting attention from people who've been telling me to give up on what I'm doing if I don't have the same amount of success they've had, which is completely invisible on their part, ironically. They grasp for putting others down who are actually working toward their goals, spending all the time they could use on their own goals to tell others to stop. Because it makes them feel better about what they've wasted.

Though I've realized all this, I'm still doing my best to work it out of my system. Though I'm still working on changing, I've already put more energy toward having something to show not just tell. I talk about my progress if I so choose and ignore demands I present my evidence before the court of social media or I won't be called pretty for putting on a fireworks display.

I benefit from the occasional verbal commitment and because I like to see process shots from artists I enjoy, I keep mindful when I share that on my part, as well.

But that's generally for me.

What I actually put out and make available - that's for you. I want to give you something tangible that can remind you of what you really think is important. I want to fill the gap between the shops full of art from someone you've never spoken to and doesn't care where they get their hands on supplies, and the impersonal world of retail made from things that have come from nine different places but assembled in the USA so they can put it on the tag.

At risk of sounding a bit weird (haha if I was only concerned with that...), I want my work to be a part of your life, in parallel to how it's a part of mine. To do that better, I'm trying not to post on social media so much, unless I have something to show you. Not just tell.

I am, however, interested in speaking directly, if that works for you. The comments on this blog are a little wonky, but I'm working on smoothing those out over time (you just need to log in). In the meantime, in addition to commenting here, you can also check out the fancy moving pictures on my YouTube channel {HERE} (and subscribe).

If you're more of a Tumblr person, you can find the WTFT update blog {HERE} (and follow!).

So, how about it?

You up for keeping more of your energy for yourself, instead of feeding it endlessly to Social Media?

What first step are you going to commit to?

28 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Yellow Socks

Recommended Listening Folkvangr by Danheim I've been out for several weeks. And, just when I started gearing back up to post again, I had two surgeries about a week apart. One, I was prepared for and