Why Are We too Embarrassed to Talk About Our Art?

Last week, I had to drive down to the far reaches of south-west England to take some documents. Not really fancying doing this 4-hour drive alone, I put an advert on a Facebook page that offers and requests lifts from people going in the same direction. I found two people that I felt happy sharing my journey with. Both were in their early 20s. One was a young lady, the other a young man.

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Anyway, during the course of the journey, we discovered that we are all creative people. I am a writer as you should all know by now – well, I do my best anyway! The young lady was a photographer and the young man a video editor; both were heading south-west for different reasons. What struck me wasn’t how much in common that all three of us had in our various arts – the passion, the interest, the creativity, the desire to learn and develop – but just how embarrassed we were to talk about them.

There were lots of embarrassed “errs” and “umms” as we tentatively offered up information about our work, some nervous laughter too. Due to client confidentiality, I didn’t give too much away, especially for those clients who do not credit me for the work I do for them. But even so, the other two had no such professional reason(s) to keep information to themselves. It was simply embarrassment about talking about themselves and their various artistic interests.

Why do we do this? Why do we pour our passion, our love of the work and the effort to produce the best we can into a project, and then act as though it is no big deal or that it is a complete waste of time? It’s very strange, isn’t it? I cannot explain why I was reticent to talk about my fiction work and blogging, even though I put a lot of effort into it and take pride in it after the fact, and that it is on such public display.

We almost seem apologetic about these things when in a 1-1 situation. My guess is that what we create is very intimate to us, but that which also juxtaposes with being on public display. We want people to understand our passion but we don’t want to be judged as not being good enough or being a pointless waste of time. I must admit I was impressed with the work these two people were doing and what they hoped to achieve from it, but as we were virtual strangers, it took a while to get conversation going.

Are you too embarrassed to talk about your writing in public? If so, why?

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4 thoughts on “Why Are We too Embarrassed to Talk About Our Art?

  1. mrmonkey1980

    I feel it’s because I’ve been brought up – in some way, I don’t know by whom – to believe that talking about myself is bad manners. Arrogant even. Is it Britishness or is it everyone?

    1. I think you’re right about that. We even do it when we are being asked questions about ourselves.

      Makes you wonder how people ever manage to successfully make friends or date 🙂

  2. I think there’s always fear of criticism. If you talk about it, then maybe they’ll find your work and not like it, and how awful to reveal something only to receive negativity!
    Sometimes I get nervous about revealing my blogging because so much of it is personal. And while I don’t mind divulging personal details to the whole internet, I suddenly become a bit secretive when people I know IRL are reading my writing.

    1. True, true. I think the fear of being made to feel it is a pointless waste of time is one issue for people when discussing art. In the case of the young lady, she was talking about her university photography projects – I guess she would have been prepared for / used to the academic criticism but not the personal, should it have occurred.

      I admit I felt a little reticent myself, talking about some of the work I have done for clients, even for environmentalscience.org which is one of a handful of clients that credits me as the author. Though partly, I am sometimes on the back foot with these things in case I end up travelling with a denialist.

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